By Arnie Stapleton
AP Pro Football Writer
DENVER — The choice for the San Francisco 49ers might come down to paying Colin Kaepernick $11.9 million to wear their uniform in 2016 or $4.9 million to wear Denver’s.
Kaepernick wants out of Northern California. His only suitor so far is Denver, which lost Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency a month after winning Super Bowl 50.
Kaepernick, who lost his starting job to Blaine Gabbert last season, met with Broncos GM John Elway at his Denver home last month. But trade talks stalled when Kaepernick balked at taking a pay cut in 2017 and the 49ers declined to pay a portion of his fully guaranteed salary for the upcoming season to facilitate a deal.
While the stalemate drags on, the Broncos are preparing to select a quarterback in the upcoming draft, coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday.
Kubiak said he’s focused on the quarterbacks on his roster, newly acquired Mark Sanchez and 2015 seventh-round selection Trevor Siemian, while GM John Elway and his staff study the top college passers.
“Obviously we’ve got some work to do. We’ve got to add to our group. We understand that,” Kubiak said.
Asked if he felt a pressing need to add a veteran quarterback to the mix, Kubiak said, “I feel good about the two guys that we have. We’ll see what happens. You know, you continue to move forward and try to get better, but I’m going to stay focused on Mark and Trevor right now and doing everything I can to get ready for this draft right now, which is extremely important.”
The Broncos have the 31st pick because New England lost its first-rounder in the “Deflategate” saga, and Kubiak spoke highly of this year’s crop of quarterbacks.
“It’s a good group and we’ll do our work on all of them,” Kubiak said, “but hopefully when we come out of the draft we’ll be a better football team at a lot of positions, not just there.”
The Broncos acquired Sanchez from the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional 2017 draft pick. He’s been working out in California with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and has insisted he intends to win the starting job no matter who else the Broncos bring in.
“Mark has a lot of background in our system,” Kubiak said. “So I think we’ll make up ground very quickly.”
Kubiak also said Siemian shouldn’t be dismissed as a guy fighting only to win the backup job after taking just one snap as a rookie — a kneel-down at that.
“Well, I think absolutely. Trevor’s a young player who made up a lot of ground last year. Obviously, we think a lot of him,” Kubiak said. “This is going to be a step for him. If a guy makes a big jump, he usually makes it from Year 1 to 2. Trevor will know what he’s doing when he walks in here in April. So, it’ll be up to him. We’ll see. But I think our football team has a lot of confidence in him. I know I do. I know he’s got the talent to do it.”
Speaking before a keynote address at an annual Boy Scouts breakfast at the Pepsi Center, Kubiak also said he expects Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to attend the start of offseason workouts April 18. Miller received the team’s exclusive franchise tag.
Last year, Thomas was franchise tagged and missed all of the offseason workouts — much to Elway’s chagrin — before agreeing to a $70 million deal on the July 15 deadline.
The Broncos used up much of the $1.62 million cap space they had remaining with the signing of free agent defensive end Jared Crick to a two-year, $4 million deal on Wednesday. But they can create $9.18 million in cap space by converting Thomas’ $13 million base salary next season into a signing bonus.
They can create another $8.9 million in salary cap space by dealing away or releasing left tackle Ryan Clady, who projects as an expensive backup following the free agent signings of Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson.
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