49ers QB Colin Kaepernick wants out of San Francisco so he can join the Jets, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (Feb. 3).
The Jets are Kaepernick's "preferred" choice, according to Mehta, who says the team is aware of his interest and intrigued about the possibility of obtaining him.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has a different take than Mehta, noting that the Jets have never have and do not currently have interest in acquiring Kaepernick (Feb. 4).
Kaepernick, 28, was benched midway through this season before being placed on injured reserved. In eight starts, Kaepernick completed 144 of 244 passes for 1,615 yards while throwing six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Mehta notes that the 49ers have until April 1 to make a decision to keep, trade, or cut Kaepernick, whose cap hit this season is set to be $15.9 million. Kaepernick is owed roughly $100 million over the next five seasons.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who served as the Jets' starting QB this season, is set to become a free agent.
It would make perfect sense that Colin Kaepernick might want to play with the Jets, but I would be shocked if the feeling is reciprocated by GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles.
New York is obviously one of the biggest markets in the country and after bottoming out two years ago, the Jets are in a much better place. For Kaepernick, New York would represent a soft landing spot with two excellent receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. With a few smart acquisitions this offseason, this offense could easily get markedly better.
From his time in Arizona, Bowles knows what Kaepernick is -- a highly athletic playmaker at quarterback with plus wheels. But Bowles also knows what Kaepernnick isn't -- a quarterback who has progressed in any discernible way since his first year as a full-time starter.
Sure, there might be interest on the Jets' side, but Kaepernick has done nothing to disprove the sentiment that he was little more than a creation of a favorable offensive system (to which the NFL has caught up) and that he is a product of a QB whisperer/head coach who crossed power-obsessed Niners GM Trent Baalke and had enough. Once Jim Harbaugh left, the house of cards collapsed quickly.
While Chip Kelly's offensive philosophy might mesh well with Kaepernick's style of play, it would appear that Kelly's reputation of having an abrasive personality -- coupled with a dysfunctional front office -- has soured Kaepernick on staying put. And it's hard to blame him.
In many ways, Kaepernick's situation feels comparable to that of Mark Sanchez with the Jets just a few years ago. Once the team moved on from Sanchez (even though it was at least partly due to injury) it seemed impossible to walk that decision back. Sure, Kaepernick was injured in 2015, but to bench him in favor of Blaine Gabbert might have been a bit too far.
If we are to truly believe that shoving off to New York is Colin Kaepernick's idea and not some NFL offseason smokescreen or power play by others, then I know one thing: Kaepernick is not going to get the Jets to agree to such a deal on his current bloated contract. Mike Maccagnan is no fool. If Kaepernick is pining for the Big Apple, he will play on a pay-as-you-go affair and do so at a reduced rate.
Another thought that occurs to me is that this is the Jets' way of creating urgency in their contract negotiations with Ryan Fitzpatrick. If there is too great a gap between player and team, maybe the threat of a trade for another (albeit worse) player might hustle Fitzpatrick back to the table. No one is pretending that Fitzpatrick is Mr. Right for this team, but in my estimation he is a much better Mr. Right Now for the Jets than Colin Kaepernick.