After a string of resurgent performances from quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NFL insider Ian Rapoport delivered some potentially unsettling news for 49ers fans.
According to Rapoport, Kaepernick will exercise his right to opt out of his player option for the 2017 season with the 49ers, electing to test his luck on the open market first.
#49ers QB Colin Kaepernick will void his contract & become a free agent after 2016, sources say. But don’t rule out a return to SF in 2017.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 4, 2016
But as Rapoport mentions in the final sentence of his tweet, the situation is not as bleak as it might seem.
Rapoport added on NFL.com that Kaepernick may decide to return to San Francisco after all, only on a more reassuring contract than the one-year deal he would have that is without an injury guarantee.
Kaepernick’s success in revitalizing his career under head Chip Kelly and the organization’s support of the athlete’s social activism are also factors that land Kaepernick back with the 49ers.
Still, the veteran quarterback is taking a big financial risk by voiding a contract that’s worth $14.5 million in base salary, with incentives that could push it well into the $19 million range.
The announcement of Kaepernick’s gamble preceded a huge step-back in play from the veteran quarterback, as he posted an atrocious stat line of 1-for-5 passing for four yards before being benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert during Sunday’s game against Chicago.
The quarterback had previously been on one of the best stretches of play in his career during his last four games, throwing for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 223 yards and one touchdown with his legs as well.
Other teams in desperate need of a quarterback that may look to entice Kaepernick are the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos. The 49ers and Broncos reportedly were near a trade before the season, but couldn’t agree on a cut in base salary that ultimately negated the deal.
Regardless of whether Kaepernick returns to San Francisco or not, the team could do well with adding another quarterback to their roster during the offseason through the draft or free agency.