The Browns are willing to trade a third-round pick to the 49ers to acquire quarterback Colin Kaepernick — but only if Kaepernick is willing to take a pay cut.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the 49ers want a second-round pick, but might settle for the Browns’ third-round pick, which is the second pick in the round, No. 65 overall. The key, however, is that the Browns would want Kaepernick to agree to a pay cut before the trade is completed.
The Moneyball guys running the Browns’ front office apparently think Kaepernick is only worth $7 million or $8 million a year, and that’s what they’d want Kaepernick to take, with the possibility of more money in the form of performance incentives.
But why should Kaepernick agree to that? On April 1, the 49ers either have to guarantee his $11.9 million base salary or cut him free and let him negotiate with every team and give his services to the highest bidder. Kaepernick also has a $1.125 million roster bonus and $400,000 workout bonus due this year, so if the Browns are asking him to take $7 million, they’re asking him to cut his pay almost in half.
Cabot also suggests that the Browns may draft a quarterback this year and groom him to be their quarterback of the future. Again, why should Kaepernick agree to take a pay cut to go to a team that only wants him as a placeholder while the rookie draft pick develops?
Kaepernick reportedly wants to play for the Browns, so it’s possible he would be willing to restructure his contract to help them out. But it seems unlikely he’d take that steep a pay cut for the privilege of playing in Cleveland.