The Cleveland Browns have had a miserable start to free agency, with all four of their premium free agents agreeing to contracts to leave the Browns on the first day. Former Pro Bowlers Alex Mack, Tashaun Gipson, Mitchell Schwartz, and Travis Benjamin all became former Browns within a few hours.
With the new regime making little effort to retain them, the team looks to be readying for a reset, and finding a competent quarterback would be a big part of that for a franchise who has not had a decent one in a long time, despite spending much draft capital.
Kapernick has much physical ability, but his mental makeup has been called into question despite those gifts. Quick success at the beginning of his career has been followed by mediocre performances, which led to his ignominious benching last year for former Jaguars bust Blaine Gabbert. Kapernick presents a solid reclamation project for teams looking for a quarterback with upside, and comes at a fair price tag of $15.9 million for 2016, with a team friendly structure that is essentially pay as you go, although it jumps to $19 million for 2017 and beyond.
The 49ers are rumored to be asking a 2nd rounder, with teams balking at that price thus-far. But with several teams in the running, virtually no options on the market, and a clearly elevated quarterback market following the Osweiler and Bradford deals, things are heating up around Kapernick, and rightly so. A San Francisco team in need of a reboot will likely take advantage of quarterback needy teams and a well negotiated contract which will present the team acquiring Kapernick to have a year to evalutate him before deciding whether to hold onto him at the market value in 2017. It would not be shocking if the bidding got as high as the Browns pick at the top of the 2nd round with the dearth of other options out there.
For the Ravens, the Browns acquiring Kapernick represents a worst case scenario, as the Ravens are hoping the Browns select a quarterback at 2nd overall to push down one of the 5 elite prospects down to their sixth overall pick. Laremy Tunsil, Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, and Myles Jack are the top prospects, and there is a dropoff following those players.However, there is also a chance this scenario would lead for a bidding war to trade up for the top quarterback in the draft, whether it be Carson Wentz or Jared Goff.