Colin Kaepernick Rumors: 49ers QB Reportedly Requests to Be Traded

Alec NathanFeatured Columnist

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2015, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) stands on the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Santa Clara, Calif. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has a torn ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand and surgery has been recommended. That could happen as soon as this week once he receives a second opinion on the injury. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The agents for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have reportedly requested permission to seek a trade on their client's behalf, according to NFL Network's Rand Getlin

The phrasing is important because "In order to seek a trade and not lose his guaranteed money, [Kaepernick] needs written permission," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. As of Thursday, he has not received it. 

Getlin's report comes on the same day new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly told assembled reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that the 28-year-old signal-caller wanted to stay in the Bay Area, per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco: "He wants to be here. He's never expressed to me that he doesn’t want to be here. He expressed to me that he was excited about getting healthy and getting going. And we’re excited about him getting healthy and getting going."

On Friday, Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported the 49ers were still debating whether to trade Kaepernick:

 

Rapoport also noted Kelly wants Kaepernick to compete for the starting quarterback job.

A day earlier, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke expressed a similar sentiment, per ESPN.com: "I think the good thing is we've got two guys that have gone into games who've proven they can play, and Colin's done some awful good things through his career, won some big games for the San Francisco 49ers, and [we] expect him to come back."

Kaepernick's Career Numbers
SeasonGamesPass YdsPass TDINTRush YdsRush TD
201133500-20
2012131,8141034155
2013163,1972185244
2014163,36919106391
201591,615652561
Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

But even if Kaepernick remains intent on changing zip codes, doing so could be difficult because of the sheer size of his contract, according to 95.7 The Game's John Middlekauff:  

However, it's worth noting the unique structure of Kaepernick's contract could make it more appealing to interested buyers if he receives permission to seek a trade. 

According to Spotrac, Kaepernick's deal is essentially a pay-as-you-go model that gives the team an option to cut him before his annual salaries become guaranteed on April 1.

For instance, Kaepernick's $11.9 million base salary becomes guaranteed on April 1 of this year, but even if it vests, his employer will have a chance to opt out of the remaining years on the deal when the same option is available in 2017. 

Kaepernick's Contract Breakdown
SeasonBase SalaryCap Hit
2016 (Guaranteed on 4/1)$11,900,000$15,890,753
2017 (Guaranteed on 4/1)$14,500,000$19,365,753
2018 ($5.2 million guaranteed on 4/1)$15,000,000$19,865,753
2019$16,800,000$19,200,000
2020$19,000,000$21,400,000
Source: Spotrac.com

There are also stipulations in Kaepernick's contract that call for an annual de-escalation of $2 million if he doesn't take at least 80 percent of the team's snaps and get named as a first- or second-team All-Pro or win the NFC Championship Game, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News provided an informed take on Kaepernick's current financial situation: 

That said, trading for Kaepernick would be accompanied by serious risk—and not just because he has failed to meet expectations each of the past two seasons. 

After making just nine appearances in 2015, Kaepernick was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 21 to undergo surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. The Sacramento Bee (via ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez) later reported on Jan. 6 that Kaepernick also had surgery performed on his right thumb and underwent a procedure for his balky left knee.

As far as red flags go, those are pretty significant. However, draft season is a time for teams to get ambitious—especially when it comes to wheeling and dealing. 

The fact that Kaepernick's camp is reportedly pushing for a change of scenery could ultimately put the 49ers front office in a position to receive a solid return on its investment should suitors come forward.