Editor's note: The above video is from June 4, 2014.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is officially guaranteed $11.9 million in base salary for the 2016 season – if he wants it.
The 49ers did not seek to release Kaepernick on Thursday, the day before his salary becomes fully guaranteed. Now, Kaepernick will make less for the upcoming season only if he agrees to it.
The contract Kaepernick signed with the 49ers in June 2014 dictated that his base salary for the upcoming season would be fully guaranteed if he remained on the roster on April 1.
Because the 49ers did not make any move with Kaepernick before the end of the business day on March 31, Kaepernick is guaranteed his 2016 base salary. The only way his salary will not be paid at this point is if he accepts a pay cut or restructured contract that will enable him to leave the 49ers in a trade.
The most likely trade partner with the 49ers appears to be the Denver Broncos, according to sources.
Up to this point, Kaepernick’s agents, Scott Smith and Jason Bernstein, do not want to touch his contract, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Thursday. It is unlikely a trade will occur unless Kaepernick agrees to re-work his current contract.
His agents requested permission from the 49ers to seek a trade on Feb. 25 during a meeting with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and chief contract negotiator Paraag Marathe at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The 49ers granted that permission to Kaepernick’s representatives.
The 49ers have maintained they never considered the possibility of releasing Kaepernick, whose contract was guaranteed up to this point for injury only. Kaepernick is rehabbing from surgeries on his left shoulder, right thumb and left knee, so the 49ers would not have been able to release Kaepernick without some form of a settlement, anyway.
“(It’s) not even in the conversation,” Kelly said last week when CSNBayArea.com asked him at the NFL owners meetings about the possibility of releasing Kaepernick. “I don’t think you cut talent.”
With the arrival the date on which his base salary became guaranteed, the next unofficial dates of significance pertaining to Kaepernick’s future are Monday, April 4, and April 28.
The 49ers’ offseason program is set to begin on Monday. Kaepernick is expected to attend. Kaepernick has a clause in his contract that pays him $400,000 if he takes part in 90-percent of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts.
Kelly has stated he wants Kaepernick on the roster to compete with Blaine Gabbert for the 49ers’ starting job.
Two weeks ago, Kelly said he told Kaepernick over the phone, “If you’re here (on April 4), we’re going to coach the heck out of you.”
Kelly added, “And he was excited about that. I said I understand there’s a business side to this. That’s why he has an agent, and that’s why we have a personnel department. They deal with all of that stuff.”
In his last public remarks and before his agents requested a trade, Kaepernick addressed his future with the team after the final game of the season.
“I’m under contract. I’m a 49er. I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m prepared for next season,” he said.
Trade talks could heat up as the draft nears on April 28-30.
The Broncos, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns spoke to the 49ers about the possibility of acquiring Kaepernick within the first two days of the new league year on March 9 and 10. Those talks have gone dormant, and the Browns are no longer interested after signing former Washington quarterback Robert Griffin.
The Broncos appear to be the team most likely to pursue a trade for Kaepernick. Denver’s starting quarterback, Peyton Manning, retired. Brock Osweiler, who was expected to take over as the Broncos starter, signed with the Houston Texans as a free agent.
Denver acquired Mark Sanchez from the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade for a conditional seventh-round pick, but the Broncos are expected to add a starting-caliber quarterback later in the offseason.
In order for Kaepernick’s request of a trade to come to fruition, the 49ers must agree to the terms of a trade and Kaepernick would likely have to come to an agreement on an adjusted contract with his new team.
The Broncos are an NFL-low $1.62 million under the salary cap, according to NFLPA figures. Kaepernick would likely have to agree on a pay cut or contract restructure in order for the Broncos to fit him into their payroll.
If the 49ers trade Kaepernick, the 49ers would no longer be responsible for the $11.9 million guaranteed base salary.
The Super Bowl-champion Broncos own draft picks at the ends of the second (No 63 overall) and third (No. 94 overall) rounds. One of those picks could be dealt to the 49ers to acquire Kaepernick.