Speaking today to reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Browns executive VP of football operations Sashi Brown downplayed the team’s interest in 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, suggesting that those trade discussions were “way over-reported,” as Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com tweets.
According to Brown, the team isn’t currently actively engaged in trade talks for Kaepernick, and only had preliminary discussions, which didn’t include specific negotiations on draft pick compensation or a new contract for the quarterback. Brown added that the Browns didn’t instigate those conversations, and Grossi clarifies (via Twitter) that it was Kaepernick’s representatives, rather than the 49ers, who contacted the Browns.
Although it’s possible that Brown’s comments today are a negotiating tactic or an attempt to regain some leverage, it doesn’t seem likely at this point that Cleveland will land the San Francisco signal-caller. The Browns appear more focused on other options, including Robert Griffin III, who visited Cleveland on the weekend — no deal with RGIII is imminent, but the club is doing its homework on the former No. 2 overall pick.
The Browns, Jets, and Broncos were identified earlier this month as the three teams showing interest in Kaepernick, but the Jets’ interest was believed to be tepid, so if the Browns aren’t a serious suitor either, it looks increasingly likely that the 28-year-old will be a Niner or Bronco in 2016. San Francisco is expected to continue to explore the trade market after Kaepernick’s $11.9MM base salary becomes fully guaranteed on April 1, but the team is also prepared to hang onto him if no suitable trade offer materializes.
In addition to downplaying Cleveland’s interest in Kaepernick, Brown also suggested that a Joe Thomas trade is not in his club’s plans, as Grossi tweets. With fellow linemen Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack departing in free agency, there was some speculation that Thomas would ask for the Browns to be traded, but if that’s something the team intends to consider, the executive VP of football operations isn’t tipping his hand.
“That’s not our plan at all,” Brown said. “Our plan is not to trade Joe Thomas.”
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