Colin Kaepernick has always grabbed headlines. For various different reasons.
He was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers and began playing some great football. He went to a Super Bowl and was seemingly on top of the world. He was one of the biggest athletes in the country, getting tons of endorsements, and pegged as the next best QB in the league.
But then he started to regress a little bit. Things began going downhill and he became just a league average to below average signal caller. He wasn’t anything special anymore.
And then, of course, he started to grab headlines for a very different reason. Last year, Kaepernick was a backup QB for the 49ers most of the year and he decided to kneel for the national anthem instead of stand. He was not happy with the state of the country and decided to protest by refusing to stand for the anthem before every game.
This was met with some acceptance, but also a lot of criticism. Sure, other players followed his lead and joined him. But there was a lot of backlash and bashing of why Kaepernick decided to do this. People felt like he was disrespecting the country and our military. Kaepernick insisted he was kneeling to show that he was unhappy with our country’s current state of shootings and racial inequalities.
He also did a lot of good work by giving back to the community and donating money. He became a free agent this past offseason and said he would no longer be kneeling for the anthem. He said he did his job and sent a message and will now stand.
However, no team has signed him yet. We are now finally hearing of teams taking a look at him. He’s working out with the Seahawks today (Wednesday).
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But the question has always been pondered if Kaepernick is getting blackballed from the league because team don’t want to deal with the backlash and media circus that surrounds him for these protests.
NFL league executives recently spoke to ESPN about this very issue. One anonymous executive said the following:
"I think the protest stuff gave people a little pause because anytime you did mention his name, it is a little polarizing," a personnel director says. "I think that added to it, but the tape itself wasn't as good. Now, granted, there are some lesser quarterbacks who got with teams, so [the anthem protest] had to be the reason, in my opinion, why some people shied away from him."
"I do think he is getting kind of screwed," a team exec says.
Other coaches reference the fact that he simply can’t play anymore. That he’s regressed since his initial outburst:
"You watch him on tape, and he never has been able to progress," a quarterbacks coach says. "Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh really made him. He needs to run that system. And that system lasted for two years. Washington took the idea and did it with RG III. Colin thrived in that. And then it took defenses one offseason to figure out how to shut it down.”
Kaepernick ranks 30th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in Total QBR over the past two seasons. The market for him is low. But it’s also low for other veteran players ranked higher than him on that QBR list. Jay Cutler (20th) retired. Ryan Fitzpatrick (22nd) remained unsigned until recently. Also Brock Osweiler (23rd) was exiled to Cleveland.
Most league execs don’t seem to view the anthem stuff as the reason he’s not signed. I’ll trust their word on it. If Kaepernick could still play at a high level, he would have been signed by now. It will be interesting to see if he latches on as a backup somewhere soon.