The draft ended a week ago, without Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, or Ryan Fitzpatrick changing teams. So what happens with each of them in 2016?
Glad you asked. Even if you didn’t.
Bradford wants out of Philly. The Eagles don’t want to trade him. Some think he may retire. Which would likely be a Carson Palmer-style retirement, with Bradford waiting until some other team decides to trade for him.
Fitzpatrick wants more from the Jets than the Jets are willing to pay. No one else has offered him anything close to what he wants. At some point, the Jets have to put their best offer on the table (maybe they already have), and Fitzpatrick will have to decide whether he’ll take $0.00 to not play or whatever the Jets are offering.
Of the three situations, the most ambiguous is unfolding (or not) in San Francisco. Nearly three months ago, Kaepernick asked for permission to seek a trade. He met twice with the Broncos; the fact that the 49ers allowed this to happen perhaps says all anyone needs to know about whether the 49ers truly want him back.
But Kaepernick wasn’t traded to Denver, the Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch in round one, and there’s apparently no one else interested in Kaepernick.
If any of these quarterbacks will be changing teams with meaningful preparation for the coming season, it needs to happen sooner than later. With Phase Three of the offseason program coming, any quarterback who’ll be learning a new offense needs to get started.
The one to watch is Kaepernick. As he moves toward receiving clearance to fully participate in football activities, the 49ers have to decide whether to embrace him or to move on. Once he sets foot on the practice field, Kaepernick is a fluke accident away from landing on injured reserve and costing the 49ers the full $11.9 million for 2016. Trading him would erase all (or at least part) of that responsibility.
Assuming there’s no trade partner for Kaepernick (at the point, the Jets or Bills are really the only ones to even remotely consider), the real question is whether the 49ers would simply cut Kaepernick. They’d still owe him the difference between whatever he’d earn elsewhere and the $11.9 million guaranteed salary, but that amount would be less than $11.9 million.
The smart move for each of these three guys at this point would be to make the most of their current situations.