Report: Kaepernick willing to take pay cut, but there's still one huge issue

The trade saga involving Colin Kaepernick and the Denver Broncos seems to give us a new twist every day, so it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that we possibly have another one.

According to CSN Bay Area, the 49ers quarterback is actually willing to take a pay cut to help make a trade happen. However, there's still one huge issue: the amount of the pay cut.

Although it was initially believed that the Broncos wanted Kaepernick to take a $4.9 million pay cut, apparently the number is actually bigger than that. According to CSN, the Broncos want Kaepernick to agree to a restructured deal that would pay him $7 million in both 2016 and 2017, which would be a huge loss for Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has a guaranteed salary of $11.9 million in 2016, so if he agreed to the Broncos' new deal, that would mean a $4.9 million loss for the upcoming season, which was previously reported.

In 2017 though, Kaepernick would take a bigger loss in Denver: His base salary is scheduled to be $14.5 million, which means he would be taking a $7.5 million pay cut for 2017 if he were to agree to the Broncos' proposed deal.

If Kaepernick took that offer, that would cost him a total of $12.4 million in base salary over the next two seasons. Kaepernick also has $2 million in roster bonuses built into his contract for each of the next two seasons, so he could potentially be out a total of $16.4 million if he restructures his contract the way the Broncos are asking. 

The 49ers quarterback is willing to take a slight pay cut, but he's not willing to lose out on $12.4 million (or $16.4 million). According to CSN, Kaepernick "made his statement" when he left Denver on Sunday to to fly to the Bay Area so he could attend San Francisco's offseason workouts.

Kaepernick visited with John Elway twice over the past month, so leaving Denver was likely his way of saying, "I need a better offer."

If Kaepernick's willing to take any pay cut, that's a good sign for the Broncos, because it likely means he wants out of San Francisco so badly that he's willing to take less money. He's just not willing to play a drastically lower salary.

The good news for Kaepernick is that he can wait this out because his 2016 salary of $11.9 million is guaranteed. That means Kaepernick would get that money even if the the 49ers cut him. The only way his 2016 number could possibly go down is if he agrees to restructure his deal.

So how will this situation play out? Former NFL agent Joel Corry took a look at things on Tuesday.

If Kaepernick's willing to take a pay cut, then the Broncos should be willing to make a concessional offer on their end. According to Corry, the most reasonable thing to do would be for Denver to void the final four years of Kaepernick's contract so he could become a free agent again after 2017.

Denver could also fully guarantee Kaepernick's 2017 contract at $14.5 million, which would give the quarterback a total of $21.5 million over the next two seasons ($7 million in 2016, $14.5 million in 2017). That would be $10.75 million per year, which is well below the $16 million per year that the Broncos were offering Brock Osweiler, who's more unproven than Kaepernick.

Denver could also throw in a few escalators in 2016 to help Kaepernick get his contract number up. Peyton Manning made $4 million in bonus money after the Broncos won the AFC title game ($2 million) and the Super Bowl ($2 million).

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora sees the Kaepernick saga likely ending by April 28, when the NFL Draft starts. "Bottom line is that this is all jockeying, and there are no real deadlines. A lot could happen this month, particularly right around the draft," La Canfora wrote. 

If something's going to happen, it needs to happen soon, at least according to former NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson says that Kaepernick's prolonged presence in the 49ers' locker room could create a toxic environment that will cause serious problems and kill team chemistry.

That sounds like something that Chip Kelly, who's only been on the job for three months, probably doesn't want to manage. The most likely scenario here is that Kaepernick ends up in Denver -- it's just a matter of when and for how much.

Is Colin Kaepernick willing to take a pay cut? (USATSI)
Is Colin Kaepernick willing to take a pay cut? (USATSI)

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories
    24/7 Scores, News, Highlights
    FREE ON ALL YOUR DEVICES