Colin Kaepernick

QB carousel: 49ers, Rams and Broncos waiting to see who blinks first

A source told Matt Maiocco that the Browns, Broncos and Jets “have not shown much urgency” in trade talks, which is another way of saying they aren’t offering anything higher than a fourth-rounder in return for Colin Kaepernick … if they’re even offering that much. It’s possible that the 49ers haven’t received one legitimate offer for Kaepernick, or whatever offers they’ve received are contingent on Kaepernick reworking his contract. As we all know, it’s best to take these reports from sources, especially during a trade negotiating process that’s dragged this long, with unhealthy doses of skepticism and cynicism.

Where will Kaepernick be in 2016? Here’s a look at each team — starting with the squad that appears to want him the least, to the team that probably wants him more than anyone else … and yes, that includes the 49ers.

Not really interested in allowing Kap to live and play in the same town as Nessa

New York Jets

They want Ryan Fitzpatrick (a key domino yet to fall), but not at the price he wants ($16-$18 million per year). They met with Robert Griffin III on Friday and Saturday, but that could’ve represented a message to Fitzpatrick more than sincere interest in Griffin III. The Jets have shown very little interest in Kaepernick, and no other team seems to want Fitzpatrick. So the Jets and their 2015 starter could meet in the middle fairly soon.

Might consider a trial run, for the right price (i.e. salary)

Cleveland Browns

There’s been reported interest in a trade for Kaepernick, as long as they can redo his contract. Kaepernick can’t be too interested in making that compromise, since (1) the Browns are terrible and haven’t gotten any better during this ongoing free agency period, (2) they already have Josh McCown, and (3) they’ll probably select a franchise quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft anyway (Carson Wentz being the likeliest choice). The Browns don’t really need Kaepernick — one could argue that McCown is better — but the Browns are in the news constantly because they always make wacky moves and Hue Jackson really loved Kaepernick back in 2011.

Trading for Kap makes sense, but not for what the 49ers are asking (i.e. draft pick)

Denver Broncos

Acquiring Mark Sanchez for a seventh-rounder sent a message: “We just won a Super Bowl with a quarterback who couldn’t throw a spiral. We aren’t that desperate to trade for Kap, so the 49ers can stop asking us for a second-rounder any day now.” But they need a quarterback other than Butt Fumble and Trevor Siemian. Will they increase their offer to the 49ers for Kaepernick (who they reportedly think is only worth a fourth round pick), wait and see if the 49ers lower their demands, sign Fitzpatrick or Griffin III, or keep tabs on Peyton Manning’s health and see if he can play one more season? That last option sounds wild, but crazier things have happened in the NFL.

He loves it here! OK, maybe he doesn’t but who cares

Colin Kaepernick 49ers Beats headphonesSan Francisco 49ers

A Kaepernick vs. Blaine Gabbert competition would make the preseason even more interesting than it would’ve been already with a new head coach as unique as Chip Kelly. However, if Kelly picked Gabbert to be the starter, the 49ers better be ready for weekly doses of “Emo Kap” stories dominating the local and national conversation about the team.

The 49ers, as reactionary and paranoid as they are, occupy two disparate worlds of thought when it comes to Kaepernick. They trust him so little that they planned his contract to have an out clause each Spring and are fine with (or, they strategically planned) a leak campaign to sully Kaepernick’s reputation as a hard worker. They’re also against releasing Kaepernick or trading him for a modest return, because they’re worried that Kaepernick could soar to new heights with another team. What’s their worst nightmare? Not an unhappy Kaepernick pouting in the locker room. The 49ers don’t want to face him twice each year, which is why they’ll do whatever they can to keep him from joining …

The team that needs a Hollywood QB

Los Angeles Rams

They’ll do fine economically in Los Angeles, seeing as they announced a month ago that they had taken 56,000 deposits on season tickets. But they can’t reintroduce themselves to Southern California with Nick Foles and Case Keenum as their quarterbacks. They’ve shown no interest in Fitzpatrick or Griffin III, and they have the No. 15 overall pick in May’s draft. And as bad as Kaepernick looked in 2015, his celebrity star shines brighter than the quarterbacks on L.A.’s roster. Plus, an offense featuring Kaepernick and Todd Gurley could lead the league in rushing.

They have some options.

  • Put together a massive package and trade up high enough to select Wentz or Jared Goff.
  • Stand pat and target Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook.
  • Change their minds and sign either Fitzpatrick or Griffin III.
  • Pray this scenario unfolds: the 49ers are actually bluffing, they don’t have a legitimate offer on the table for Kaepernick, and they’ll release him at the end of this month because they’re positive that Gabbert is the better player and they don’t want to pay their backup a base salary of $11.9 million.

If the Rams break down and sign Fitzpatrick or Griffin III before April 1, the 49ers may feel safe in releasing Kaepernick, as long as he can pass a physical. But as long as the Rams stand pat, the 49ers have the cap space to keep Kaepernick in their clutches and see what they can get out of him. That could either mean a trade in the coming months to another team (perhaps during the draft), or a Gab vs. Kap battle that will seem like a bizarro version of the Joe vs. Steve quarterback controversy that rocked the Bay Area over 20 years ago.

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