Cleveland Browns, Colin Kaepernick a poor match
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns need to fix the quarterback position, but trading for Colin Kaepernick is not the answer to the team’s problem.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to select yet another quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft, if not in the first round then at some point during the weekend.
Holding the No. 2 overall selection, the Browns should have their choice of one of the two top quarterbacks – presumed to be Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz – or, if they don’t like what they see, could dip into the second tier of prospects, a group that includes Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, among others.
Of course, for a team that has been searching for its next franchise quarterback for 23 years, the Browns will always find themselves linked to any quarterback that has fallen from grace.
Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.
While the 49ers and head coach Chip Kelly may want to keep Kaepernick around for another year, the quarterback’s agents reportedly told the team it is time to start working to find a trade partner for the former starting quarterback.
The interest from the Browns, if such a thing actually exists, stems from not only needing a quarterback but from head coach Hue Jackson liking Kaepernick as a quarterback. Of course, that was back in 2011 when Kaepernick was coming out of Nevada and Jackson was the offensive coordinator with the Oakland Raiders.
A lot has changed since then, as Jackson has seen Kaepernick fall from the starting quarterback of San Francisco’s Super Bowl team in 2012 to being benched for Blaine Gabbert in 2015. (We’ll pause for a moment to allow you to read that sentence again.)
Kaepernick, like Robert Griffin III in Washington, is a quarterback that relied on his legs to make something happen on offense. That worked for a couple of years, but once NFL defense’s adjusted, Kaepernick (like Griffin), was unable or unwilling to adjust his game to be anything more than an average quarterback. Five years into his NFL career, Kaepernick has completed just 59 percent of his passes, which is in the neighborhood of Johnny Manziel, which is not a favorable place to be.
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In addition, if the Browns were open to making a trade, they would inherit Kaepernick’s contract, which becomes guaranteed for $11.9 million this year if he is on a team’s roster on April 1. That base salary goes up in each of the next four years, with cap hits of $19 million or more until Kaepernick becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
It is certainly possible that Kaepernick would be willing to renegotiate that contract to get away from the 49ers, but that is a lot of money to walk away from, making it a big gamble for a team to take. A better gamble would be to wait and see if the 49ers release Kaepernick before his contract is guaranteed; that way even if the Browns miss out they will have still won.
The biggest reason for the Browns to not entertain the idea that they have the miracle elixir for what ails Kaepernick is that Jackson and the new front office team of executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta have promised that this is the dawn of a new day for the Browns.
It is time to stop picking up the trash from other teams and hoping you can turn it into a treasure. The Browns will be better off simply drafting a quarterback and putting all of their efforts into developing that player into the best quarterback they can be.
Anything else would just show that we are still dealing with the “same old Browns.”