Two weeks ago, San Francisco’s leverage regarding a possible trade of quarterback Colin Kaepernick was, “Screw it. We’ll just keep him.” Now, up to three teams reportedly are interested in making a deal, giving the 49ers a degree of power that no one thought they’d have.
But what’s real here? The one thing that seems the most clear is that the 49ers are intent on trading Kaepernick. Otherwise, they’d be shouting down (instead of leaking) the reports regarding interested teams.
So who’s really interested? If the price (as leaked by the 49ers) is a second- or third-round pick, would Broncos G.M. John Elway really give up the chance to get a potentially key player at a low salary for four years in order to secure a player at a position that they didn’t value enough to spend the extra money to keep Brock Osweiler?
The Jets reportedly are interested. Their offer of “backup money” to Ryan Fitzpatrick suggests that the Jets have someone else in mind, and it could indeed be Kaepernick. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets believe Kaepernick is heading to Denver — which could be a great strategy for slow-playing the situation in order to smoke out who really is and isn’t interested before trying to land the player.
Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Kaepernick wants to play for the Browns, which means that (based on various reports) he wants to play for all three of the teams reportedly pursuing him. It could be someone’s way of pushing the Browns, who have watched Mitchell Schwartz, Alex Mack, Travis Benjamin, and Tashaun Gipson leave, to do something to create the impression that they’re willing to do anything.
Regardless, it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t until someone makes a move. The only thing that’s real for now is that the 49ers want to trade Kaepernick. The question is where he’ll go, whether he truly wants to be there, and ultimately whether he’ll want more than the $12 million he’s due to earn in 2016.