Should Colin Kaepernick decide to stay with the San Francisco 49ers for the 2016 season, his salary is fully guaranteed — at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, the NFL’s salary deadline came and went, securing his $11.9 million base salary for the upcoming season.
After Kaepernick’s agents requested permission to seek a trade during the NFL Scouting Combine, no deal could be agreed upon. Because the 49ers did not make any moves with the embattled 28-year-old before the end of business on March 31, he is guaranteed the aforementioned base salary, which was dictated by the contract extension he signed in June 2014. The only way Kaepernick makes a different amount of money for the upcoming season is if he agrees to a restructuring of his current contract — something that would effectively make it much simpler for general manager Trent Baalke to deal him.
Baalke said he extended the courtesy to Kaepernick’s representatives to shop a trade to show the quarterback what was available, and added it wasn’t something he would normally do. It should have never been observed as a sign the team was prepared to move on from Kaepernick, he added.
“Because I think sometimes it helps players … it gives them a chance to see what their options really are,” Baalke said. “And it also gives us a chance to say, ‘We didn’t hold you back from doing anything.’ This is new for everybody.
“Obviously, coach [Chip] Kelly would love to work with him, and feels he could fit into the system that coach has, and go to work. I think that’s the main purpose of it.”
According to multiple sources and reports, the most likely trade partner would be the Denver Broncos, who have just two quarterbacks on their depth chart. Additionally, entering Thursday, the Broncos had less than $2.9 million in salary cap space available. His agents, Scott Smith and Jason Bernstein, have no intentions on touching or making any changes to his contract, according to a source.
As far as head coach Chip Kelly, who was hired by the team in January, he has shared nothing but positive sentiments regarding the possibility of working alongside Kaepernick. They’ve had multiple conversations, and Kelly said both he and Kaepernick are excited to get to work.
“I talk to him. ‘If you’re here, we’re going to coach the heck out of you.’ And he was excited about that. I said I understand there’s a business side to this, and you guys deal with the business side. That’s why he has an agent, and that’s why we have a personnel department. They deal with all of that stuff.
“I deal with him as a football player, and he’s been great.”
If it were up to Kelly, he wouldn’t have released Kaepernick, either.
“(It’s) not even in the conversation,” Kelly said last week at the NFL owners meetings in Florida. “I don’t think you cut talent.”
David Barclay is the 49ers Insider for byteclay.com. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter, @DJamesIII