It’s still not clear whether anyone truly wants to trade for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It is clear that the 49ers, who have done nothing publicly or private to push back against rampant reports of a potential deal that would send Kaepernick to Denver, Cleveland, or New York (and who possibly have been leaking possible destinations to create a market), want to trade him.
But if the Browns — or anyone else — expect Kaepernick to drop his already low (relative to other quarterbacks) base salary for 2016, Kaepernick should declare that he has changed his mind and wants to stay with the 49ers.
Calling the team’s bluff has no real downside for Kaepernick, if teams interested in trading for him expect him to take less money. Either the 49ers keep him from at least another year at $12 million, which becomes fully guaranteed on April 1, or they cut him and he can join a team that would be giving up nothing to get him.
If the Browns are indeed willing to part ways with a third-round pick but also want him to take less money (an inconsistent position that suggests either a halfhearted effort to make a deal or disagreement within the organization as to whether they should pursue him), the Browns presumably be willing to pay him more if they could get him without giving up the pick. That happens only if he’s released.
So that’s the smart play for Kaepernick. Take to Twitter and tell the world that he has decided that he wants to stay in San Francisco, and then wait for April 1 to come. He’ll either nail down $12 million at that point or the ability to go get the most he can as a free agent.