Grant Cohn: Colin Kaepernick's wish is a wrong-headed pursuit

The demoted 49ers QB could end up competing for a starting job in Cleveland - the NFL's version of Siberia.|

Seems like Colin Kaepernick will get his wish.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns would like to trade for Kaepernick, who demanded a trade out of town a few weeks ago. For some reason, Kaepernick seems to feel betrayed by the 49ers and wants to play anywhere else, even Cleveland.

Cleveland seems like the favorite to get him. The Browns are willing to give the 49ers a third-round pick, which almost is a late-second-round pick - it's No. 65 - as long as Kaepernick is willing to take about a 50-percent pay cut and play for between $7 million and $8 million per season.

Great deal for the Niners, not so great for Kaepernick.

Is this what you wanted, Colin?

Niners general manager Trent Baalke probably will wait a couple of weeks to make the trade - he has until April 1 before Kaepernick's 49ers contract becomes guaranteed for 2016. Expect Baalke to try to get Cleveland to up its offer, to overreach. Cleveland's head coach, Hue Jackson, is a notorious over-reacher.

As head coach and general manager of the Oakland Raiders in 2011, Jackson traded a first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer - one of the worst trades ever. Just a few months before that, Jackson tried to convince Al Davis to trade up in the draft for Kaepernick. Davis refused.

John Elway, general manager of the Broncos - another team reportedly interested in trading for Kaepernick - almost surely won't overreach for him or any quarterback. Elway let Brock Osweiler, the only legitimate quarterback Denver had, sign with the Texans last week because he was too expensive. See ya, Brock.

Elway knows the Broncos don't need an expensive quarterback - they need just a modest one. That's how good their defense is. The Broncos won the Super Bowl last season with Peyton Manning, whose passer rating in 2016 was just 67.9. Modest.

To replace Manning and Osweiler, Elway traded a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017 to the Eagles for veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez, another modest player. Denver can win with Sanchez, which means Kaepernick probably won't get to play for the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos next season. Instead, he probably will have to play for the three-win Browns.

Is this what you wanted, Colin?

The Browns are even worse than the Niners. This offseason, Cleveland lost its Pro Bowl center, Alex Mack, as well as its No. 1 receiver, Travis Benjamin. If Kaepernick joins the Browns, his receivers would be Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins and Terrelle Pryor, the former Raiders quarterback. Grade them modest-minus.

And that's if Kaepernick even wins the starting job in Cleveland, which he might not. He probably would have to compete with a rookie the Browns will draft in Round 1 or Round 2, someone who would take Kaepernick's job sooner or later.

Is this what you wanted, Colin?

On the Niners, Kaepernick would be the high-paid franchise quarterback who would only have to beat out Blaine Gabbert to become the starting quarterback. How hard is it to beat out Gabbert?

Kaepernick also would get to work with head coach Chip Kelly, whose offensive system fits Kaepernick perfectly. If anyone can turn around Kaepernick's career, it's Kelly.

And yet, Kaepernick still wants off the team.


Clearly, Kaepernick has a beef with the front office. He couldn't have a beef with Kelly - Kaepernick doesn't even know the guy.

Perhaps Kaepernick believes the front office leaked the report that he lost the locker room last season. If that's what Kaepernick believes, he's wrong. That report came from a player, and that player was correct. Kaepernick absolutely did lose the locker room. He needs to face that.

Maybe Kaepernick thinks the front office tried to trade him last offseason and lied about it, which may be true. On March 8, 2015, Jayson Braddock of ESPN 95.7 in Houston reported the Niners placed Kaepernick on the trading block. Within a few hours, Baalke released an official statement saying: “Colin is our quarterback and we are excited to have him. He is not going anywhere. The media reports suggesting otherwise are without merit and quite frankly ridiculous.”

Hard to know the truth.

It's understandable if Kaepernick thinks the Niners lied to him. That's no reason to demand a trade, though. Teams lie to players every day. Get over it, Colin. Think with your head, not your heart. You're making an emotional decision that will hurt your career and send you to Cleveland, the NFL's version of Siberia.

Is this what you wanted?

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat's website. You can reach him at

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