Tuesday evening, the first of what should be a flood of offseason Colin Kaepernick rumors circulated. The New York Daily News reported that Colin Kaepernick wants to get away from the San Francisco 49ers, and his preferred destination is the New York Jets.
It is interesting to consider who may have circulated this rumor. One explanation would be the New York Jets are trying to create some leverage against starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He is entering free agency coming off the best season of his career. I have no idea how the Jets front office works, so we'll at least mention this as a possibility before moving on to what is more in the wheelhouse of 49ers fans.
It has felt over the last year like most rumors have originated with the 49ers front office. This rumor is a little different. If the 49ers want to try and retain some trade value, putting it out there that Kap wants out does not help that cause, particularly including a "preferred destination." It would make more sense for Kap's agent to potentially put this out there to make it known that he has a choice of destination, but more importantly, that he does in fact want out.
On the other hand, this could also help the 49ers set up the end game of this whole drama. And whether this rumor has anything to do with that or not, I have my suspicions on how this whole situation will play out over the coming months. My guess is this all leads up to that April 1 deadline, but Kap's injuries could shuffle this timeline a little bit.
For the foreseeable future, Jed York and/or Trent Baalke will have plenty of positive things to say about Kap's future with the team. They want to have him around, they think he just needs to focus on getting healthy and competing for the starting QB job this offseason. All the stuff we've heard this offseason from the front office has been along these lines. Chip Kelly has been a bit more measured, but considering he may or may not know what the team's future is with Kap, it makes sense to play his cards close to his chest.
At some point, the 49ers will ask him to take a pay cut, primarily in hopes of trading him somewhere. He will refuse to take a pay cut, and the team will subsequently release him. At some point during this closing stretch, we'll hear about how the 49ers wanted to work something out, but he did not want to be here, and did not want to help them deal him to a new team.
The salary really should not be that big an issue. He is due $11.9 million in 2016, with a cap hit of $15.9 million. The 49ers can easily take that hit if they really want him to stick around and compete for the starting job. However, if Trent Baalke and Jed York are convinced they want to cut ties and figure out a new answer at quarterback, I just don't see them keeping Kap around.
There are plenty of ways this can all get flipped sideways this offseason. And without having a bug in their offices, we'll never have anything close to 100 percent clarity on the situation. But for now, I remain convinced this ends with Colin Kaepernick on another roster in 2016.