The New York Daily News has reported that struggling 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wants out of San Francisco in order to join the New York Jets in 2016.
The news comes despite the hiring of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who many believed would rejuvenate and benefit Kaepernick’s career in San Francisco with his uptempo offensive scheme.
The report claims that people within the Jets organization are aware of Kaepernick’s comments and claim to be “intrigued” by the notion of bringing the elusive signal caller to the Meadowlands, but due to potential tampering violations, New York refrained from commenting further on the subject.
The Jets went 10-6 with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback and were a Buffalo Bills upset away from reaching the playoffs this past season. Fitzpatrick is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason and his recent strong play for the Jets has New York coach Todd Bowles and general Mike Maccagnan expressing their desire to re-sign the veteran quarterback.
Along with Fitzpatrick, the Jets also have former starting quarterback Geno Smith on their roster. Smith, who was drafted in the second round in 2013 by the Jets, started at quarterback for the Jets in 2013 and 2014, but after breaking his jaw in a preseason altercation with teammate Ik Enemkpali, lost the job to Fitzpatrick who went on to have the best season of his career in 2015, passing for 3,905 yards and a franchise-record 31 touchdowns.
Kaepernicks uncertain future with the Niners may have sparked his recent comments. He was benched midway through this past season in place of Blaine Gabbert, and ultimately wound up on San Francisco’s injured reserved list in November with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Along with his struggles on the field Kaepernick also underwent two surgeries last month to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb along with a procedure on his left knee, the latter being more of a concern for an athlete whose success lies within his legs.
And though the Niner quarterback wants out of the Bay area, there’s still the fact that he has five years remaining on his $114 million extension he signed in 2014, when Jim Harbaugh was leading the Niners to NFC championship games, meaning the Jets, if interested, would have to trade for the ailing quarterback or wait until/if he’s cut.
Kaepernick’s disinterest in his current state now volleys the pressure back to the 49ers’ front office. The team must now decide whether to keep, trade, or cut Kaepernick before April 1 if they want to avoid paying him his 2016 base salary of $11.9 million, which becomes guaranteed on that date. Should San Francisco part ways with Kaerpernick, they would save $8.5 million this upcoming season.
It’s interesting how the Jets will attack the situation this off season. On Tuesday morning Jets star receiver Brandon Marshall appeared on Boomer & Carton and made it clear that Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ quarterback in 2016 while commenting on Geno Smith’s role this upcoming season.
“If [Smith] can learn from Fitzpatrick, I think he’ll be fine,” Marshall said. “But as of right now, it’s Ryan’s team.”
The comments by Marshall were made before the reports of Kaepernicks desire to play for the Jets were made public, but considering the great year Marshall had with Fitzpatrick as quarterback (109 catches, 1,502 yards, 14 TDs) it’s easy to see why he is sticking behind Fitzpatrick for the starting job.
Whatever the case may be, Kaepernick’s comments will surely keep the Jets and Niners front office busy in the coming weeks.
(AP Photo/Billy Hurst)