SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Colin Kaepernick is set to hit the open market when the NFL’s new league year begins March 9.
ESPN reported Kaepernick’s representation, Select Sports Group, sent a letter to the league informing them that Kaepernick will opt out of his contract with the 49ers and become a free agent.
The 29-year-old would have earned over $14 million dollars had he elected to remain with San Francisco in 2017. Kaepernick was initially signed through 2020, but the decision to opt out became possible after the two sides reworked his original contract in October. The move also leaves the 49ers without a quarterback on their roster.
Kaepernick reclaimed the starting quarterback job shortly after agreeing to the new contract. He started the final eleven games, threw 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and was named the team’s recipient of the annual Len Eshmont award, which goes to the player who “best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team.”
A return to the 49ers appears unlikely, but new general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan did meet with Kaepernick last week at the team’s facility in Santa Clara. “We had a great discussion. Colin left excited, we left excited and I think as Kyle and I really believe, the evaluation is still very much fluid,” Lynch said during an interview on KNBR radio.
Kaepernick has spent six seasons with the 49ers after the franchise drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft. He replaced Alex Smith as the starter midway through the 2012 season and helped lead San Francisco to two NFC Championship games and Super Bowl XLII.