NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Colin Kaepernick wants out of San Francisco because he has “a lot of hurt feelings,” said the New York Daily News reporter who broke the story that the 49ers quarterback would like to join the Jets next season.
Kaepernick, who led San Francisco to the Super Bowl three years ago, was benched for backup Blaine Gabbert after a 2-6 start this past season. Two weeks later, the 49ers placed Kaepernick on season-ending injured reserve with a hurt shoulder, reportedly at the quarterback’s request.
“He’s not happy with the organization, and he has professional and personal reasons for wanting to play for the Jets,” the Daily News’ Manish Mehta told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Wednesday. “The Jets are not the only team that he would be happy playing for. It’s just the team he would prefer.”‘
It’s unclear how the Jets might feel about the possibility, but one hurdle is that Kaepernick is under contract through 2020 and is due more than $77 million in base salary over the next five seasons. If the 49ers want to trade Kaepernick, his new team might demand his contract be restructured. Whether they trade him or release him before June 1, the 49ers would save $8.5 million against the salary cap but be hit with $7.4 million in dead money.
It also remains to be seen whether San Francisco wants to sever ties with the 28-year-old quarterback. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly as their new head coach last month, and his offensive system seems ideal for a mobile quarterback like Kaepernick.
Mehta was asked about rumors that Kaepernick was eyeing the Jets because his girlfriend lives in the area.
“I think he does have a girlfriend that lives in the New York area,” he said. “I can’t speak to his motivation behind wanting to play on the East Coast.”
NJ Advance Media, citing a source familiar with the situation, reported there is no truth to the Daily News article.
“No,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Nothing. No idea where it came from. Random, strange article.”
Meanwhile, the Jets have said they hope to re-sign free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who passed for 3,905 yards and a team-record 31 touchdowns while leading New York to a 10-6 record in 2015.
Fitzpatrick, however, is 33 years old.
“They are happy with the way Fitzpatrick played,” Mehta said. “They are optimistic that he can get better working with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker in Chan Gailey’s system for a second year. But they don’t have a long-term answer at quarterback, and they’re smart enough to know that. So it’s not like they’re not looking at other options. They’d be foolish if they weren’t looking at other options.”
Comparing Fitzpatrick to Kaepernick is not easy. Fitzpatrick is a cerebral, hardworking veteran who is coming off his best statistical season but who is also entering the twilight of his career. Kaepernick is a flashy, athletic specimen with bigger upside, but who has regressed since bursting onto the scene in 2012.
“You can raise a fair question about whether Colin Kaepernick can be a leader in the locker room,” Mehta said. “I can’t speak to what he was in San Francisco, but I think there are some fair concerns about whether he can truly be a leader, whether he can adapt and grow as a quarterback because he started off so hot in his second and third seasons. The team did so well. He has taken a step back. Can he adjust and adapt? Can he be fixed, for lack of a better phrase?”