It’s NFL Combine time and with the Combine always comes contract news and today’s big story is that Colin Kaepernick has asked to seek a trade from the 49ers. This comes just one day after San Francisco indicated they were committed to having the quarterback on the roster this year, but also seemed to indicate that he would compete for the starting job. You can read between the lines on that and it seemed that Kaepernick’s agents did just that. So let’s briefly look at his contract, who could be interested and what the price might be.
If a team believes they are getting a starter in Kaepernick his contract is relatively cheap by quarterback standards. Kaepernick is under contract for the next 5 years at an average of $17.9 million per year with no real guarantees in his contract. That salary would rank 14th in the NFL. His current salary of $14.3 million ranks 13th in the NFL. Those numbers will both fall further as new contracts are signed. So if a team believes that he is a good player, this is a very affordable deal.
Here are some thoughts on who may be the QB needy teams:
Browns– I believe Browns head coach Hue Jackson was a fan of Kaepernick’s when he came out from college and was looking to draft him. They have no quarterback on the roster, draft picks to burn and low expectations since this has been a QB wasteland for years. This would seem like a good destination in a trade.
Texans– The Texans played musical quarterbacks last season in hopes of finding anything of value. They have a terrific defense that is going to be wasted without a QB. They likely will part ways with Arian Foster this year so having a more athletic QB may help. Kaepernick would get a chance to play with an elite wide receiver here who catches everything and the playing conditions are better than they would be in the northeast. The downside is the coach may just as quickly pull Kaepernick after a bad game as he would a journeyman starter.
Rams– There are a lot of similarities between the Texans situation and Rams one. This is a team that has been held down because of shoddy QB play and is desperate for a QB. They already have a dominant running back though they lack the star wideout. I can’t see the 49ers trading him in the division however.
Jets- The Jets won 10 games last year with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Fitzpatrick is likely not a long term answer which could make Kaepernick a consideration. The Jets are not really built for a developing quarterback though so the Jets would need to be 100% convinced that Kaepernick is the guy if they swung this trade. He would bring a more dynamic presence to the team but I think the risk may outweigh the reward.
Broncos- Peyton Manning can’t play anymore and Brock Osweiler is a free agent, but I don’t see this as a fit at all. I don’t think Kaepernick’s playing style meshes with the Broncos approach. They would be better off keeping Osweiler or signing a RG3 type project.
Eagles– Philadelphia is reportedly trying to keep Sam Bradford but this might be a cheaper option for them. I’m not sure if Kaepernick is accurate enough for what they want to run and he could completely melt down in front of a very difficult crowd. I don’t think this would be a good spot for him at all.
So it’s really not a huge list of teams but it should be enough to get a deal done. Id think the Rams lurking out there gives some teams the motivation to trade for him rather than hoping he gets cut. Once April 1 passes and his salary is guaranteed for the year teams also will realize they have no other way of getting him.
How much will it cost in a trade? Kaepernick is still young and just a few years removed from being considered a big star. Here is the listing of some trades for starters that I could think up as moves for starters:
|Name||Draft Round||Games Started||Trade Package|
|Jay Cutler||1||37||two 1’s, a 3rd, and Kyle Orton|
|Drew Bledsoe||1||123||1st* round pick|
|Carson Palmer||1||97||1st* and 2nd*|
|Carson Palmer||1||121||6th and 7th*|
|Donovan McNabb||1||142||2nd and 4th*|
|Alex Smith||1||75||2nd and 2nd/3rd*|
|Sam Bradford||1||49||2nd, 4th and Nick Foles (loss 5th to Phi)|
|Kevin Kolb||2||7||2nd* and DRC|
|Matt Schaub||3||2||1st round swap (2 slots) and two 2nds|
|Charlie Whitehurst||3||0||2nd round swap (20 slots) and 3rd*|
|AJ Feeley||5||7||2nd round pick|
|Matt Hasselbeck||6||0||1st round swap (7 slots) and 3rd|
|Matt Cassel||7||15||2nd (plus Mike Vrabel to KC)|
You can draw your own conclusions but it would be surprising if the 49ers would be willing to trade him for less than a 2nd and another pick. Given that they traded Alex Smith for a 2nd and a conditional 2nd a year after benching him I’d think that is where they would want to go.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.