While it’s getting late in free agency, which means the big moves and really good players are locked up with new contracts, there are some quarterbacks available or thinking about leaving. Robert Griffin III, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick lead the list, while the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets are playing a part as well.
So let’s make this orderly. Right now, Griffin III, cut by the Washington Redskins, seems closer to the Browns (who no longer have Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel) than anyone else. Griffin III has been mentioned with the Denver Broncos and the Jets, but his visit to the Browns could be sealing the deal. It doesn’t mean he’ll start there. The Browns are almost certainly taking a quarterback with their first pick, but Griffin will have a shot at reviving his NFL career which has deteriorated with every passing season after a sensational rookie campaign.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the top option for the Jets. They don’t have a lot of available money and they don’t seem to be anywhere close to what Fitzpatrick wants. However, right now, the two are probably going to end up with each other on some middle ground ($12 million a season?), with no one particularly happy, but knowing it’s the best they can get for now. The Jets didn’t like Griffin III and aren’t putting the ball back in the hands of Geno Smith unless things have really turned sour.
And where does this leave Kaepernick? Right now, stuck in San Francisco. The trade offers have stopped coming, and the Browns prefer Griffin to Kaepernick, who seemed like he was on the verge of being traded just about a week ago. Things change quickly. The Browns were the only ones willing to give up something remotely close to what the 49ers were looking for. Both the Broncos and the Jets weren’t sending the right kind of offers, and won’t be sending them now.
The 49ers can still cut him before April 1 and save themselves a lot of money (more than $8 million) not to mention the future guarantees of his contract. Chip Kelly initially seemed like he wants Kaepernick on the team. Now? Everything the 49ers have been doing the last two years seems to be about making the wrong decisions and blowing up the team. Unless they believe Kaepernick can bounce back from a disappointing season followed by an awful one, it’s hard to say what he’s still doing on the team. They won’t get anything for him through a trade anymore.