San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is signed through the 2017 season, but has an option to opt out after this season. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport just tweeted out that Kaepernick is expected to opt out after the season, but a return to the 49ers in 2017 has not been ruled out.
Kaepernick and general manager Trent Baalke have seen their relationship deteriorate in the years since Kaepernick signed his big contract extension. The lack of re-signing some notable free agents coupled with the leaking about Kaepernick last season has resulted in a relationship that can be described as frosty at best.
However, this year we have seen Kaepernick work with head coach Chip Kelly and put together his most impressive performances since at least 2014, if not before. He still has issues with accuracy, but he is on pace for career highs in rushing, and the offense is showing some signs of life as Kelly adjusts to Kaepernick’s skill set.
Rapoport talked about Kaepernick having a better relationship with the franchise given Jed York’s decision to back him in his call for justice. I imagine that helped considerably, but the potential departure of Baalke would probably help as well. But even if Baalke does not get fired, Kaepernick’s relationship with Kelly might still be enough to overcome the problems Kap has had with Baalke. That being said, it also will depend on the kinds of offers Kaepernick can amass on the open market.
He is not putting up franchise quarterback numbers, but at a time when even some good teams struggle to put out a decent quarterback on a regular basis, there is likely a quality market for him. His stand on inequality for people of color will be something that could very well turn some teams off, but most teams desperately want to win. In light of his recent play, it should be enough to net a decent market.
If Kaepernick does opt out, the 49ers will be unable to place the franchise tag on him. That is as a result of the date of his opt out clause. He can opt out until after the NFL deadline to place a franchise tag on a player. The 49ers front office remains a huge question mark, so that will be a key factor in figuring out whether or not they want to even try and bring him back. If they do, that gives them a negotiating window until the opt out.