Does the AFC North fear Colin Kaepernick on the Browns?

Sep 20, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) attempts to throw the ball as Pittsburgh Steelers dfensive end Cameron Heyward (97) defends during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are in an ongoing dance with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But is he a quarterback that the rest of the AFC North will fear?

The Cleveland Browns are still traversing their decades-long journey to find the team’s franchise quarterback.

While the Browns hold the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and are widely expected to draft a quarterback, the team has turned its attention in recent days to San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The Browns and 49ers have reportedly agreed on a the details of a proposed trade, with Cleveland sending its third-round pick, No. 65 overall, to San Francisco in exchange for Kaepernick. The deal has cooled, however, due to Kaepernick not being as willing to restructure his contract as much as the Browns would like. Kaepernick’s current deal includes a guaranteed salary of $11.9 million in 2016, then non-guaranteed figures of $14.5 million, $15 million, $16.8 million and $19 million through 2020, so it’s fair to wonder just how much of a cut Kaepernick is willing to take as the Browns are reportedly looking at $7 million to $8 million a year.

That hang up may actually save the Browns from making a mistake in thinking that Kaepernick can solve the team’s quarterback problems.

Kaepernick’s supporters point out that he was the quarterback when San Francisco went to the Super Bowl and that his struggles are due to not being surrounded by talent and having to put up with a dysfunctional situation.

Of course, that overlooks:

  • Rex Grossman and Jake Delhomme also took their teams to the Super Bowl once upon a time, and we never had any desire to see them quarterback the Browns. (Sadly, the Browns did not agree on Delhomme.)
  • If Kaepernick really did fall apart because of a lack of support and a dysfunctional franchise, how exactly is the situation going to be better in Cleveland? (Seriously, we love the Browns but they are not the model of stability, nor are they loaded with offensive talent.)

The fact is, that Super Bowl appearance was four years ago and Kaepernick’s numbers have gone down every year for the past four years.

That got us to thinking that maybe we are too close to the situation. After all, Kaepernick is a “Super Bowl” quarterback and who doesn’t want to see the Browns return to the playoffs?

Playoff dreams are hard to achieve when the Browns consistently go 1-5 or 2-4 in the AFC North Division, and the postseason will remain a myth until the Browns can start consistently beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.

In search of some clarity, we reached out to the other FanSided sites in the division to find out if the thought of facing Kaepernick twice a year in Cleveland is something that will keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. Starting in reverse order of the divisional standings, here is what they have to say.

Oct 18, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) with defensive end Timmy Jernigan (97) during the second quarter at Levi

First up, Chris Schisler, editor at Ebony Bird. Kaepernick was 16-of-27 for 340 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 25-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens last season.

The Baltimore Ravens beat Colin Kaepernick in a Super Bowl, but he gave them fits. Kaepernick is a quarterback who can be very dangerous. I don’t think the Ravens would be thrilled if the Browns traded for Kaepernick.
For a while the Browns have felt like a team that was a quarterback away from being good. Kaepernick would be an upgrade at the paramount position. That being said, I don’t think the AFC North would freak out if he came to Cleveland.
Jim Harbaugh made him his secret weapon. The world is still waiting for Kaepernick to experience success without the coach who crafted an offense for him. Kaepernick is wildly inconsistent. We’ve seen great peaks. We’ve also seen pretty low moments of production.
This would be a big deal. This would be an upgrade for the Browns, but that is not saying much. There is no guarantee that Kaepernick is your solution. The fact that the Browns would still take a quarterback in the draft after the Kaepernick trade speaks volumes.
Kaepernick to the Browns would be interesting, but it would provide Cleveland with familiar questions under center.

Next, we hear from Kim Myers, editor at Still Curtain. Kaepernick was 33-of-46 for 335 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 43-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

If the Browns were successful in trading for Colin Kaepernick I think the first reaction from the AFC North and the rest of the NFL would be shock that they were able to actually pull it off. Many thought that the new Browns regime might make some legitimate attempts to improve the football team but the only move that has been made so far by them to improve their team was to finally release Johnny Manziel instead of holding onto him for some silly idea that he’d be worth something in a trade.
Kaepernick is certainly the type of quarterback that the Steelers have had trouble with in the past in terms of his mobility. However, judging from last season’s 43-18 win over Kaepernick’s 49ers where Kaepernick threw for over 300 yards and ran for over 50 yards but was completely dominated by the Steelers the entire game, Kaepernick doesn’t necessarily inspire the type of fear that would keep defensive coordinators up all night.
As far as putting the Browns in a better place for the long run, it would make more sense for them to acquire a quarterback like Kaepernick where they could build the team around his strengths aside from trying and failing with yet another first round draft pick quarterback. Kaepernick, with the right weapons and coaching, could eventually improve the Browns’ offense as he gives the experience of having played in a Super Bowl.

Finally, we check in with Dylan Testin, co-editor at Stripe Hype. Kaepernick did not face the Cincinnati Bengals last season as he had been benched by the time the two teams met:

Colin Kaepernick still has the ability to keep up defensive coordinators up at night, but not like other quarterbacks do. He is the biggest ground threat at the quarterback position, even over guys like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson.
Kaepernick still has the capability to be a good passer, he just has to play with confidence, which is something we haven’t seen him do since his team lost in the Super Bowl.
Being a fan of the game, I have watched Kaepernick play probably a dozen times, and he has the talent, he just has to tighten up his mechanics. I think the biggest hit to his game was when his former head coach, Jim Harbaugh, left for Michigan.

Thanks to Chris, Kim and Dylan for their interesting perspectives. Now it’s your turn, Browns fans. What are your realistic expectations if the Browns do swing a deal for Kaepernick?