Complexities of Warner's record-breaking 49ers contract

Fred Warner

Fred Warner is a rich man. 

The star 49ers linebacker made history Wednesday after reportedly agreeing to a five-year, $95 million contract extension. That's the most expensive deal ever for a linebacker. Warner is getting $40.5 million in guarantees and the deal runs through the 2026 season. 

But as always with Paraag Marathe and the 49ers, Warner's contract has a pretty unique structure.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning that Warner's contract essentially is two separate deals. The first is a five-year extension where the final two years automatically void, which makes it a three-year extension. That becomes $54.9 million in new money over three new years, good for an $18.3 million average. It also is more than the three-year extension Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner signed in 2019 -- $54.0 million and an $18.0 million average. 

The second deal is the 49ers buying back the final two years -- after they've voided -- by paying Warner $21.85 million in 2025. That new money total would become $76.8 million, good for a $19.2 million average.

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If Warner plays all five years of the extension, the contract is a $95 million extension, which is a $19 million average. In the short term, Warner gets a huge upfront extension that nearly is 70 percent guaranteed. The second deal also gives the 49ers more options and flexibility. 

What this all means is pretty simple: Warner's massive deal is a win-win for both sides, keeping the NFL's best linebacker in the Bay Area.


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