The Denver Broncos are rumored to be the last team standing in the hunt for Colin Kaepernick, increasing the odds that the team will find their quarterback of the future in the San Francisco 49ers castoff.
Kaepernick reportedly requested a trade this offseason, months after losing his starting job to Blaine Gabbert after the worst year of his professional life. After a torrid start to his career in which he was one of the league’s most unstoppable quarterbacks — a stretch in which he led the team to the NFC Championship Game in his first full year as starter and a Super Bowl in his second — Kaepernick fell hard. He struggled with inaccuracy and looked lost at times, leading to his benching midway through this season.
— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) March 25, 2016
As the offseason started there were reportedly a handful of teams interested in bartering with the San Francisco 49ers for a trade, but in the last week that has whittled down to just one — the Denver Broncos.
The Cleveland Browns, once thought to be a frontrunner in the Kaepernick sweepstakes, this week signed former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. The New York Jets, who have at least a temporary quarterback opening after they have failed to come to contract terms with Ryan Fitzpatrick, are now bowing out as well, RotoWorld reported.
“Someone — likely Kaepernick’s agent — has been working very hard to connect him to Gang Green this offseason, but the idea has never taken hold beyond the rumor section. The Jets seem focused on retaining Ryan Fitzpatrick, while the 49ers continue to insist they will be keeping their starting quarterback. Perhaps the rumor smoke will finally yield some fire if Fitzpatrick slips out of the Jets’ grasp.”
The Denver Broncos entered the offseason as a team seemingly set at quarterback. The expected retirement of Peyton Manning was supposed to give way to the Brock Osweiler era, but he couldn’t come to terms on a deal before free agency began and then bolted Denver for the Houston Texans.
Sources say the San Francisco 49ers may have too high of an asking price on Kaepernick, as they are seeking a third-round deal. And Robert Griffin III’s presence on the market also gave quarterback-hungry teams a cheaper option, which the Browns ended up pouncing on.
“There is one sufficiently motivated team to get something done (Denver), a team that still has a quarterback position to settle despite the acquisition of Mark Sanchez,” Jason La Canfora wrote on March 11.
Some feel that the Broncos now have an inside track, and possibly leverage to bring the asking price down a bit.
"We want him..I really would love to work with him" -Chip Kelly on Colin Kaepernick.https://t.co/l6PfTu0SaP
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) March 23, 2016
It’s still not entirely clear how motivated the Broncos are to land Kaepernick, as the team has spoken highly of Mark Sanchez.
“One of the things we feel really good about is we feel good about getting Mark,” coach Gary Kubiak said from the NFL owners’ meetings. “Mark’s got 60 starts in this league — he’s started two AFC Championship (games)… we feel really good about him, how he fits. He’s got some background in what we do.”
But Sanchez is seen as a mid-level talent, strong enough to serve as a backup plan but certainly not the quarterback of the future for the Denver Broncos. Kaepernick would likely move into the starting role if the teams were to come to terms on a deal.
There is still a chance that the trade could never happen. San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke said that he has been in discussions with several teams, but is “nowhere near getting anything done at this point.” That lack of progress — combined with the high asking price — has led to growing sentiment that the rumors surrounding a trade to the Denver Broncos will fizzle and Colin Kaepernick could remain on the 49ers next year.
[Picture by Christian Peterson/Getty Images]