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What Kinlaw, Aiyuk deals are worth, and why new CBA provides huge payday opportunity in fifth year

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports


With Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk, there are new wrinkles for the 49ers to consider due to the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA has changed some rules governing the value and guaranteeing of rookie deals, especially as it pertains to first rounders.

All first-round picks are given mandatory four-year deals with fifth-year team options.

Per OverTheCap, here are the projected values of Kinlaw and Aiyuk’s deals, and their first-year salaries. Their bonus money is typically spread evenly over those four years.

Kinlaw: $16,228,028 total over four years, signing bonus of $9,362,200. 2020 cap hit of $2,950,550.

Aiyuk: $12,531,350 total over four years, signing bonus of $6,673,708. 2020 cap hit of $2,278,427.

If that option is picked up (which must be decided before a player’s fifth season), it is now fully guaranteed. Previously, fifth-year options were only guaranteed for injury and didn’t fully guarantee until the outset of the league year of that fifth season.

Perhaps more notably is the fact that there aren’t any differences between fifth-year option values. Top-10 players, like Solomon Thomas, were previously compensated with a salary of the league’s transition tender during the player’s fourth season. Now, it is mostly based on performance, at least in theory, for all 32 first-round picks.

The issue, is that the main way players are rewarded is via Pro Bowl selections, which are voted on by fans, and often a horrendous way to decide who had a supposed elite season, and who didn’t. It excludes valuing All-Pro nods, which tend to be more accurate representations of performance.

As explained here, and defined by the NFL’s new CBA, there are now effectively four levels of value for the fifth-year options. This affects 2018 first-round picks and on which means both Mike McGlinchey and Nick Bosa are included in this, too.

Level 1: Players who didn’t meet the number of snap requirements or make the Pro Bowl. These players will earn a base salary which averaged the third-through-25th highest-paid players at their position calculated at the outset of their fourth season. These players didn’t do any of the following:

  1. Play 75 percent or more of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons.
  2. Average 75 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps over the course of his first three regular seasons
  3. Play 50 percent of offensive or defensive snaps in each of his first three seasons.

Level 2: Players who did meet the requirements but didn’t make the Pro Bowl. These players will earn a base salary which averaged the third-through-20th highest-paid players at their position calculated at the outset of their fourth season. These players reached the requirement above, doing one of the following:

  1. Play 75 percent or more of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons.
  2. Average 75 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps over the course of his first three regular seasons
  3. Play 50 percent of offensive or defensive snaps in each of his first three seasons.

Level 3: Players who made one Pro Bowl. They are paid the transition tag value determined in a player’s fourth year.

Level 4: Players who made multiple Pro Bowls. They are paid the franchise tag value determined in a player’s fourth year.

Normally, you could expect the NFL’s salary cap to rise by about $10 million per season. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, however, there is expected to be a monumental amount of lost gate revenue in the 2020 and possibly, the 2021 season. The salary cap may hold or drop in the 2021 campaign, depending on how that plays out.

With that in mind, here’s what those fifth-year options would be valued using salary cap figures from OverTheCap for Levels 1 and 2 and the NFL’s official transition and franchise tag values for Levels 3 and 4. The first two calculations won’t be the same as the NFL’s numbers, because the NFL takes into account per-game pay that’s more specific than salary cap or cash paid figures.

Again, these values would typically increase substantially over the next four years, but the financial impact of COVID-19 leaves that far from a certainty.

Javon Kinlaw

Level 1 (Fail to play at least 75 percent of snaps in two of first three seasons, average 75 percent of snaps in first three seasons, play at least 50 percent of snaps in each of first three seasons, don’t make Pro Bowl): Roughly $10 million

Level 2 (Play at least 75 percent of snaps in two of first three seasons, average 75 percent of snaps in first three seasons, play at least 50 percent of snaps in each of first three seasons, don’t make Pro Bowl): Roughly $11 million

Level 3 (Make one Pro Bowl): $13,143,000

Level 4: (Make two Pro Bowls): $16,126,000

Brandon Aiyuk

Level 1 (Fail to play at least 75 percent of snaps in two of first three seasons, average 75 percent of snaps in first three seasons, play at least 50 percent of snaps in each of first three seasons, don’t make Pro Bowl): Roughly $11.5 million

Level 2 (Play at least 75 percent of snaps in two of first three seasons, average 75 percent of snaps in first three seasons, play at least 50 percent of snaps in each of first three seasons, don’t make Pro Bowl): Roughly $13 million

Level 3 (Make one Pro Bowl): $15,680,000

Level 4: (Make two Pro Bowls): $17,865,000

Nick Bosa

These assessments for defensive ends are trickier be off given that the NFL doesn’t categorize edge rushers like Khalil Mack or Von Miller as defensive ends, but in the same category as traditional linebackers like Fred Warner. It makes no sense, and complicates the process of defining salary. Luckily, since Bosa has already made a Pro Bowl, he’s guaranteed to qualify for Level 3 or Level 4, which have been defined by transition tag and franchise tag values for 2020.

Level 3 (Make one Pro Bowl): $15,184,000

Level 4: (Make two Pro Bowls): $17,788,000

Mike McGlinchey

Level 1 (Fail to play at least 75 percent of snaps in two of first three seasons, average 75 percent of snaps in first three seasons, play at least 50 percent of snaps in each of first three seasons, don’t make Pro Bowl): Roughly $11 million

Level 2 (Play at least 75 percent of snaps in two of first three seasons, average 75 percent of snaps in first three seasons, play at least 50 percent of snaps in each of first three seasons, don’t make Pro Bowl): Roughly $12 million

Level 3 (Make one Pro Bowl): $13,505,000

Level 4: (Make two Pro Bowls): $14,781,000

 

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