The San Francisco 49ers took away Colin Kaepernick's injury guarantee with their latest contract restructure. So now he's decided to get his own. In addition to naming Kaepernick the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers also decided to restructure his contract this week. The final four years of Kaepernick's deal have been eliminated and now he only holds a player option for 2017. On the positive side, this gives Kaepernick the opportunity to cash in on the free agent market this offseason if he enjoys a successful stint under center. But on the negative side, the move took away his $14.5 million injury guarantee.
As a result, Kaepernick has taken out a $7.5 million loss-of-value insurance policy, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. The policy will take care of Kaepernick in case he suffers a serious injury and is unable to play. It also isn't subject to income tax, meaning it's worth just as much in real money as the $14.5 million guarantee. For the price of just a couple hundred thousand dollars, Kaepernick has gamed the system.
It's been a turbulent couple of years for Kaepernick, who's been in the headlines all season due to his ongoing protest during the national anthem. He's opted to kneel during the "Star-Spangled Banner" to point out police brutality toward African-Americans. A number of NFL players have followed Kaepernick's lead and also carried out their own demonstrations while the anthem is being played.
But his decision to take out his own insurance policy may wind up being just as influential. He gets contractual freedom from the 49ers –– something that almost every NFL player craves –– but also retains some security at a relatively nominal fee.
After taking over the 49ers' starting quarterback job in 2012 and leading them to a 12-4 record during the 2013 campaign, Kaepernick's performance has declined. He's gone 3-10 in his last 13 starts and hasn't started a game since Week 8 of the 2015 season. Despite those horrific numbers, 49ers head coach Chip Kelly is willing to give him a chance to win back the starting job. Blaine Gabbert, who was previously the No. 1 QB on the depth chart, has posted a putrid 69.6 passer rating through five games.
With a performance like that from Gabbert, it's possible that Kaepernick will get an extended look. Now that he has his own insurance, he can play without anything to fear.