The Colin Kaepernick trade rumor saga drags on into yet another day, with no end in sight. Colin Kaepernick requested a chance to pursue a trade during the NFL Combine, and the 49ers granted it. The saga has come down to the 49ers and Broncos, and both teams have managed to say or do things that leave me scratching my head.
The Broncos want to acquire Colin Kaepernick, but they also don't want to pay his current salary. Reports suggest they are willing to pay $7 million each of the next two seasons, and they expect either the 49ers or Colin Kaepernick to eat the remaining $4.9 million in 2016.
Our friends over at Mile High Report put together an article on Tuesday suggesting that Denver Broncos general manager John Elway needs to "seriously up their offer" if they want to land quarterback Colin Kaepernick. A small majority of the readers who voted in their poll agreed.
These numbers would indicate the Broncos are valuing Kaepernick somewhere around the level of backup quarterback Chase Daniel, and new Browns quarterback (and likely only a short-term option) Robert Griffin III. They do this while their quarterbacks are Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian. They also hold the No. 31 pick, which means Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook could be among the quarterbacks on their radar.
I don't think Sanchez is the worst quarterback in the NFL, but if you are planning your season on Sanchez starting, something is not right. They could draft a QB, but Lynch or others are likely going to start the season on the bench. The Broncos have some measure of leverage, but I don't see it nearly as high as some seem to think given their current quarterback situation.
San Francisco 49ers
And then there's the 49ers situation. Although Kaepernick was the one who requested the trade, let's not pretend it was motivated by simply being benched last season. This drama has been simmering for some time with bad blood between Kaepernick and the 49ers executives.
Trent Baalke and Jed York have both made it sound like they are ready to move forward with Kaepernick. However, when your one-time apparent franchise quarterback is meeting with John Elway the day before the start of the 49ers offseason workout program, it's hard to take you seriously.
Former agent Joel Corry recently put together some thoughts on the situation (h/t GreatOden'sRaven in the FanPosts), and what is necessary to make a deal happen. He brought up an excellent point about the 49ers standing in this situation. It's something mentioned before, but not all that extensively.
More of the onus should fall on the 49ers. It is disingenuous for them to insist that they shouldn't absorb any of his salary in a trade because they would like to keep him on their roster. When a team is fully invested in a player, permission to seek a trade isn't granted like the 49ers have done with Kaepernick. For example, the Minnesota Vikings were adamant last offseason about keeping Adrian Peterson despite his demand to be traded or released. Peterson eventually relented when it became evident to him he wouldn't get his wish and shifted his focus to guaranteeing future salary.
Jed York and Trent Baalke have both suggested they see Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers roster. When asked why the 49ers granted Kaepernick's trade request, Baalke said:
"Because I think sometimes it helps players work through anything they may have," Baalke said. "It gives them a chance to see what their options really are. It also gives us a chance to say we didn't hold you back from doing that."
Corry mentioned Andre Johnson as well in his article, and the examples could go further. If the 49ers really wanted Kaepernick around, wouldn't they try and work through it with Kaepernick, rather than let him try and find a deal? Maybe they view this as a healthy way of working through things. I don't know, but it doesn't strike me as the best sign.
What does this all mean? Someone is going to have to blink first. I think it ends up being the 49ers, but this whole thing has been a little bit unpredictable. The 49ers have plenty of cap space, so they could very well bring back Kap and eat his salary, regardless of what happens with Blaine Gabbert and Chip Kelly. Imagine if Kaepernick comes back, and then spends the entire season on the bench? Peyton Manning was sort of benched for Brock Osweiler for a portion of 2015, but beyond that, when's the last time an eight figure quarterback spent a season on the bench? Maybe Kaepernick works things out with the 49ers and gets back into the starting lineup, but nothing would surprise me at this point.