One day after Sashi Brown said the reports of his team trading for embattled 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick were overblown, the Browns made it official. They opted for contracting the services of a different embattled quarterback — former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III inked a two-year, $15 million contract with the team on Thursday. It also includes a $3.5 million signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“We are excited about Robert joining the Cleveland Browns,” coach Hue Jackson said in a statement. “He brings starting experience to our team and organization. He’s a young, athletic, talented passer and he’s really just starting out in this league. Just like every player on our team, Robert will have to earn every opportunity he gets. He will compete with the rest of the quarterbacks on our roster and he helps improve our QB room, which was one of my goals upon taking the job. It’s a special room and we want to put special people and players in that room.”
Moving forward, don’t be surprised to see the Browns draft an additional quarterback — Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz could both be viewed as viable candidates, since Cleveland possesses the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
But what does all of this mean for Kaepernick’s future? Despite the fact general manager Trent Baalke has said on multiple occasions that the team is prepared to have the 28-year-old compete for the starting job in camp, and newly minted head coach Chip Kelly’s apparent “excitement” to coach him, Kaepernick is very much available for trade. During this week’s NFL owners’ meetings, Baalke met with every team’s general manager in an effort to shop the quarterback, according to a source.
Tuesday, Baalke said the Niners were “nowhere near” to trading Kaepernick, and revealed that he allowed his agents permission to seek a trade as a courtesy, one that he does not normally extend to his players.
“Because I think sometimes it helps players work through anything they may have,” Baalke said. “It gives them a chance to see what their options really are. It also gives us a chance to say we didn’t hold you back from doing that.”
Regardless, Kelly said the team will under no circumstances release Kaepernick, he has too much talent, Kelly said.
“It’s not even in the conversation,” Kelly said. “I don’t think you cut talent.”
With the Browns no longer an option, and with the New York Jets losing interest, the Denver Broncos remain the most likely destination for Kaepernick, if he doesn’t stay with the 49ers. Those trade talks have stalled in their own right, mainly because the Broncos have pegged Kap’s value with a fourth-round draft pick — Baalke is reportedly looking for a pick two rounds earlier.
However, Broncos general manager John Elway has said he isn’t finished shopping for quarterbacks yet — on their current depth chart, Denver has only two quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian, a 2015 seventh-round pick, who saw zero playing time during his rookie season. The top three quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, Wentz, Goff and Paxton Lynch, are well outside the reach of Denver’s first-round pick of No. 31 overall.
David Barclay is the 49ers Insider for byteclay.com. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @DJamesIII