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The Colin Kaepernick deadline is almost here and not much will change after it

Even if Colin Kaepernick is not traded before the deadline, he could still rework his deal with a new team and be moved afterward.

While the trade rumors are going to continue long after we are all dead and buried, there is at least one thing that's definitive: April 1 is a deadline that matters because the base salary of quarterback Colin Kaepernick for 2016-17 -- $11.9 million -- becomes guaranteed if he is on a roster that day.

Actually, it's slightly less than definitive, which shouldn't surprise you because nothing in the NFL is that simple. It's less than definitive for a couple reasons, the least obvious of which being that the deadline is actually a time on March 31, which is the day this article has gone live if you missed that bit. The league stops accepting transactions from teams at 1 p.m. pacific, meaning a release or trade of Kaepernick has to occur before that point ... 12:59:59 or before then.

So if that deadline passes and we've heard nothing then we know one thing for certain: the 49ers cannot release Kaepernick without paying him a large bundle of money. They are officially on the hook, with a few caveats.

Those caveats are simple: the team could negotiate a new contract for Kaepernick, which isn't actually a real caveat because there is literally zero incentive for Kaepernick to acquiesce to such a deal or the team could trade Kaepernick, which isn't any more unlikely after 1 p.m. than it was before that point.

If Kaepernick is traded after the deadline, the 49ers do not have to pay him any of the money they guaranteed at the deadline, and the team that acquires him does. But a team -- like the Denver Broncos -- will not likely make a deal unless they can get Kaepernick to agree to a redone contract that significantly reduces his guarantees for this coming season.

So in essence, Kaepernick himself has to make the decision. If compensation isn't an issue for the 49ers, and it seems like it is not when it comes to a trade, then Kaepernick has to determine if he wants out of San Francisco enough to agree to a restructured deal with a new team. Does he want out more than he wants just south of $12 million? He may not even know right now, but we're going to find out.

It just may not be today. But let's obsess over it anyway!