49ers

Why Colin Kaepernick's NFL settlement doesn't mean he'll rejoin league

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AP

Why Colin Kaepernick's NFL settlement doesn't mean he'll rejoin league

Just a few short years ago, the NFL was more than willing to go the legal distance with a recognizable quarterback.

New England Patriots star Tom Brady's appeal of a four-game suspension made its way up the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, or one stop shy of the U.S. Supreme Court, for those of you who fell asleep during civics class in high school. Brady was suspended for allegedly deflating footballs, and the league fought him tooth and nail one stop shy of the nation's highest court.

It's telling that the NFL didn't do the same to former 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid.

The former San Francisco teammates were the first two NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, and they settled their collusion grievances with the league Friday. An NFL team has not signed Kaepernick since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers following the 2016 season, and Reid did not sign with the Panthers until October. 

NFL officials speculated to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman that Kaepernick's settlement ranged from $60 million to $80 million. The settlement avoided the hearing the parties were scheduled for later this month.

Considering Brady's legal challenge only ended after he decided not to continue an appeals process nearly 18 months after his initial suspension, that's quite the turnaround. 

Although Kaepernick would have had to clear a high legal bar to prove collusion, NFL might have settled in order to save its own skin. In August, a mediator first ruled that Kaepernick had raised enough evidence to move forward in his claim. 

The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler reported Friday that he previously heard from sources some of that evidence was "very embarassing" to the league that would have been made public if the case went to trial, while Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio noted that "the disclosure of a likely treasure trove of" various documents "could have been devastating to the NFL."

We might never know what that evidence could have looked like, or if the NFL truly colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Both sides agreed to confidentiality, after all. 

But the existence of that agreement discloses plenty on its own, and begs another question: What does it all mean for Kaepernick's future on the field? 

[RELATED: Colorado sports store closes after Nike, Kaepernick boycott]

Unlike Brady, Kaepernick still might not play again. He reportedly has continued to work out and prepare should the opportunity arise, but some teams implied or straight-up said it had been too long since he played back in 2017. What will they say now that his suit is settled, two full seasons after he last played?

They'll probably say the same things, paraphrase NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's thoughts and offer up the usual excuses about Kaepernick "not fitting their system." There also is the possibility, as Florio noted, that Kaepernick's settlement "includes a provision that he won’t seek, and won’t be offered, NFL employment."

With the NFL rumor mill ramping up in advance of the start of the league year, we could know whether or not that's the case as soon as next month. Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill and Tyrod Taylor headline a largely uninspiring crop of potential free-agent QBs, and Kaepernick is (at worst) a comparable passer to all four.

Of course, that didn't stop all 32 teams from choosing not to sign him before. With his legal challenge officially settled, what's stopping them now? 

Why ESPN considers Kyle Juszczyk’s 49ers contract NFL's biggest outlier

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USATSI

Why ESPN considers Kyle Juszczyk’s 49ers contract NFL's biggest outlier

The 49ers paid Kyle Juszczyk handsomely to come aboard -- perhaps too handsomely.

San Francisco inked the fullback to a four-year, $21 million contract prior to the 2017 season, which is well above market rate for the position in today's NFL.

For the last few years, ESPN's Bill Barnwell has ranked the biggest outlier contracts in the NFL, those whose value is much more than the standard at their specific position. 

And for the third year in a row, Juszczyk took home the top prize as the NFL's biggest outlier contract.

"To put his four-year, $21 million deal in context, [Aaron] Donald would need to make about $108 million over three years to be similarly ahead of the defensive tackle market. Russell Wilson's four-year, $140 million extensions would need to be a four-year, $202.9 million deal to rank similarly ahead of the quarterback class," Barnwell writes.

"Nobody has joined the 49ers in rewarding the fullback position, either. Juszczyk is one of just four veteran fullbacks in the league signed to a deal of three seasons or more. The former Raven averages $5.3 million across that deal; the other three players average $5.6 million combined. Most of the league's multiyear deals at the position are rookie contracts, including several undrafted free agents. The only other fullback in the league with an average salary over $2 million is Patrick DiMarco, who is at $2.1 million."

As Barnwell goes on to explain, Juszczyk hasn't excelled as a runner -- rushing just 15 times for 61 yards -- and has fumbled four times in 98 touches, the fourth-worst fumble rate in the NFL.

Juszczyk hasn't thrived as a receiver, either, as he's hauled in 63 passes for 639 yards in the past two seasons, which, as Barnwell points out, is on par with the like of Brandon LaFell and Antonio Gates during that time period. 

[RELATED: Amid contract drama, Gould says family will drive decision]

The contract certainly is above market value, but the 49ers did what they had to do (and then some) to get their guy.

49ers' Robbie Gould says family will drive his football decisions

49ers' Robbie Gould says family will drive his football decisions

Kicker Robbie Gould and the 49ers remain in a holding pattern, and Gould said the only motivating factor at this stage of his NFL career is his family.

Gould, 36, spent most of the 2018 season away from his wife and three young boys while serving his second season as the 49ers’ kicker. He signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

Gould has deep roots in Chicago, where he spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career. On Monday, he hosted the Robbie Gould Celebrity Golf Invitational at Medinah Country Club to raise funds for Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“This city’s been incredible,” Gould told NBC Sports Chicago. “No matter where I’ve gone, no matter where I’ve lived, no matter where I’ve played, Chicago has always been home.”

The Bears released Gould just prior to the start of the regular season in 2016. The move came back to haunt them, as Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts the past two seasons with the 49ers.

Gould expected to be a free agent at the end of the season, but the 49ers tagged him as their franchise player. Gould has requested a trade, but the 49ers have stated they will not trade him.

He has yet to sign the one-year, $4.971 million tender, and he remained away from the 49ers during the offseason program.

“It’s a complicated situation,” Gould said. “The way I’ve kind of approached it is, I want to spend time with my family. And I let my agent handle it, and if anything comes up that I have to make a decision or be in the know, he’ll call me and let me know. But right now there’s nothing to really know, and I’m just enjoying being home and being in Chicago.

“I’m at a point in my career where my family is what’s going to dictate the decisions that I make.”

The 49ers have stated they would like to sign Gould to an extension. The sides have until July 15 to work out a new multi-year deal. Gould’s scheduled salary does not begin paying him until Week 1 of the regular season -- in the amount of more than $290,000 per week.

The Bears have a need at kicker after releasing Cody Parkey following his potential game-winning kick in the final seconds was partially blocked in a first-round NFL playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Gould was in attendance at Soldier Field that day.

[RELATED: Watch Verett go full speed in change-of-direction drills]

“You want every kicking friend or every kicker in the National Football League to do well,” Gould said. ‘It’s a fraternity. You obviously want him to make it. As a kicker, you can feel for him, for sure.”

The Bears currently have two kickers under contract: Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro. Gould said he is not following the Bears’ situation. Instead, he said he is focusing spending time with his family and going through his daily workouts.