That was my first reaction when I heard Colin Kaepernick was possibly being traded to the Browns. But then I looked at the calendar and it was only March 11.
My second reaction was one circus just left town Friday morning and already another one is coming.
To be fair, I don’t know much about Kaepernick’s off the field persona, but even as a player, am skeptical about a guy who was replaced by Blaine Gabbert.
From watching Kaepernick in his good years with the 49ers, he seemed to be the type of quarterback in the lines of Robert Griffin III or Johnny Manziel or a quarterback who was most effective running with the ball. However, every one knows that those guys appear to have a short shelf life after they get banged around a few times. Griffin is trying to reclaim his career after being seriously injured and Kaepernick is in a similar situation. We all know about Manziel.
The fan in me didn’t want the last two quarterbacks the Browns drafted in the first round, Brandon Weeden or Johnny Manziel. However, if the Browns are successful, it makes covering the team much more enjoyable and so you hope you’re wrong about them, but wasn’t.
Gut feeling is similar with Kaepernick as I’d much rather the Browns would’ve kept the two lineman they let leave in free agency and build from the ground floor with a top-ranked rookie quarterback. Josh McCown wasn’t the problem with last year’s offense, but more so the lack of playmakers.
Sure Kaepernick took the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 season and was five yards from leading them to a win, but if you look at all the playmakers he had around him that year on offense it was staggering. He had Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Ted Ginn Jr., just to name a few. The last time I looked at the Browns roster, I saw their top playmaker on offense heading to San Diego in Travis Benjamin. They have little on the roster as of right now and are hoping Josh Gordon returns as he almost by default becomes their primary hope of an offensive playmaker.
With the loss of a Pro Bowl center and dependable right tackle, the Browns are going to likely have to draft for need at certain positions and play rookies at key positions. It’s hard to count on a drafted rookie or two to instantly become the Odell Beckham Jr. or Todd Gurley in their rookie seasons.
The Browns are also sending mixed signals.
By letting their top five free agents leave they appear to be in a total rebuild mode after going 3-13 and cleaning out the front office and coaching staff. By trading for Kaepernick, they are sending the signal that they are trying to win now. Reports say the Browns might still draft a quarterback with the second overall pick, but with all of their holes all over the depth chart, how could they justify that if they trade for Kaepernick?
If they truly think Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will be the guy, why bring in Kaepernick with his contract? Sure, they re-structure it, but it’s still a lot of money for a bridge quarterback that could’ve been used for other holes. In June of 2014, Kaepernick signed a seven-year, $126.97 million contract, including $61 million guaranteed. He also has had three surgeries in the last couple years and there’s some concern that he wouldn’t even pass a physical at the present time.
More than likely, if the Browns don’t take a quarterback at the top of the draft, they will take a developmental quarterback somewhere like Cardale Jones, Dak Prescott or such.
Hue Jackson has a reputation of being able to develop and get the most out of quarterbacks and he, like most coaches, thinks he can be the coach to bring Kaepernick back to the level he once played at. It is no secret that Jackson coveted Kaepernick when he was coaching the Raiders and has been a big fan of his.
Even if the trade doesn't materialize, the Browns have shown that they're not completely sold on the current quarterbacks still on the roster in Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Connor Shaw or they wouldn't be trying to add Kaepernick either as a starter or backup.
If this trade were to go through, it would be the first major move in the acquisition of talent department since Jackson and Sashi Brown took control and this move could go a long way in overcoming their seemingly rough start to free agency.
Then again, it could be the move to set the franchise back even further.
Over the weekend, reports said that Kaepernick was starting to cool on the idea of getting traded to the Browns—especially when talk about re-structuring his contract came into play--so maybe the trade won’t go down at least for now and from this vantage point, that might not be a bad thing.