ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the San Francisco 49ers won’t be releasing quarterback Colin Kaepernick before Friday, when his $11.9 million salary for 2016 becomes guaranteed. Kaepernick is unhappy in San Francisco and has asked to be traded after he was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert midway through the 2015 season (he was eventually placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury).
The Denver Broncos and New York Jets have pretty much been the only teams linked to a possible Kaepernick deal, though nothing serious has developed in terms of negotiations. Denver needs a quarterback after Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler departed for Houston via free agency. They did acquire Mark Sanchez in a trade with the Eagles earlier this month, but let’s not consider Sanchez to be Option A right now. The Broncos have seven tradeable picks in this year’s draft but also have less than $2 million in salary cap space, meaning Kaepernick likely would have to restructure his contract should he be dealt to Denver.
The Jets also have serious salary cap issues, with just $2.4 million left. They’re currently embroiled in a contract issue with their own incumbent quarterback, free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick, who reportedly wants more money than New York is offering. Where Fitzpatrick lands could be the first domino to fall in terms of where Kaepernick plays next season.
San Francisco, meanwhile, seems content to wait things out until the Broncos or someone else gives them an acceptable offer or until new Coach Chip Kelly can convince Kaepernick that the new-look 49ers are a good fit. The 49ers have the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft and eight picks that can be traded.
Alternately, the Sacramento Bee reports, Kaepernick and the 49ers can reach an injury settlement, allowing him to become a free agent.