I have been arguing for the last few weeks that Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent mainly due to his on-field performance combined with the fact that his market has yet to be determined just like a few other names in free agency who are still without a home. I continue to make the point that the protest isn’t the reason, but it is a reason. It might not be the reason you think.
It has nothing to do with being afraid of the President’s Twitter handle or the fact the NFL is mostly a club of older, white conservative owners. These are the same owners that had no interest in Rush Limbaugh joining their fraternity after it was mentioned he was considering making a bid for the Rams several years ago. Roger Goodell made the statement that someone like Limbaugh and his “divisive comments” were not welcome. Goodell works for the owners. He was simply their mouthpiece on this one. There is fear, but outside of certain markets it has little to do with political ideology.
Kaepernick is not a “distraction”, but his following is. Is Kaepernick’s potential upside worth the media sideshow that will follow? It all looks too familiar. By now Tebowmania seems like it was decades ago (unless you’re a fan of minor league baseball), but for similar reasons it is why some NFL GMs and coaches cringe at the thought of signing Kaepernick.
Teams don’t want extra persuasion from the press and fans in regards to who will be their starting QB. This is what happened with Tim Tebow. He wasn’t good enough to start for the long haul. John Elway had to pull off the unthinkable and land Peyton Manning in order to satisfy the media and the fans who would’ve buried the Broncos otherwise.
Tebow went to the Jets via the owner’s decision (ironically Woody Johnson who has been outspokenly critical of Kaepernick) and it was a headache gang green didn’t need. Tebow regressed as a passer (never started a game), Mark Sanchez continued to struggle (had his infamous butt-fumble), head coach Rex Ryan was heavily scrutinized for mishandling the quarterback situation and the Jets finished a disappointing 6-10. Ryan, who never met a headline he didn’t love, loathed Tebowmania and immediately cut ties with the faithful fan favorite following the 2012 season. Tebow would never play another regular season game in the NFL.
Let’s say Kaepernick is signed by a team that isn’t settled at quarterback. If he doesn’t start his proponents will argue it is related to his kneeling from last season. There are a lot of people that won’t buy the narrative that “he hasn’t grasped the offense” or “the other quarterback on the roster gives us the best chance to win” even though those could be legitimate scenarios.
Tebow fans and Kaepernick fans/haters are alike in the sense that they are ignorant when it comes to the football logistics on why these guys don’t have jobs in the NFL. The good news for Kaepernick is he is a much better quarterback than Tim Tebow and should land a gig this fall.
Kaepernick would be wise to accept a backup role for less money in 2017. An ideal landing spot for him would be a team that has an established starting quarterback with a solid coaching staff that will help him resurrect his career. This will benefit Kaepernick down the road and should quiet a lot of the noise that will follow him.
Here are the best destinations for Kaepernick:
Seattle Seahawks- Kaepernick is familiar with the Seahawks and they are familiar with him. He would be an excellent backup for Russell Wilson and he would mesh well with Pete Carroll’s culture in Seattle. There would be no outcry to bench Wilson, one of the better starting quarterbacks in the league, in favor of Kaepernick who played for the rival Niners all those years.
Oakland Raiders- The Raiders were having a dream of a season until Derek Carr got hurt. The Raiders already feature a talented supporting cast on offense and could use a better backup plan. An organization historically known for sheltering castoffs and misfits seems like a match made in black hole heaven for Kaepernick. If the fans in Oakland are upset about it who cares? You’re moving to Vegas.
Carolina Panthers- Since Cam Newton takes a beating it would be wise for the Panthers to upgrade the second-string roster spot. We saw what happened when Derek Anderson made an appearance last year. Yikes! Kaepernick would join an organization that has talent and stability. It might not be popular with the fans in Charlotte. Kaepernick knocked Newton and the Panthers out of the 2013 playoffs which probably upsets the Queen City citizens more than his kneeling.
Kansas City Chiefs- Hall of Famer and star of FS1’s Undisputed Shannon Sharpe believes the Chiefs are the best destination for Kaepernick. Many feel that KC can only go so far with veteran Alex Smith and they might need to start looking at other options for seasons to come. Andy Reid is a QB guru and who better to take on the Kaepernick reclamation project than the Kool-Aid Man himself?
Pittsburgh Steelers- Big Ben has taken his share of licks over the years and has hinted the end is near. I’m not sure if the Steelers think Landry Jones is the future or even feel he is there best option at backup. In Pittsburgh, Kaepernick would have a talented supporting cast around him if he had to play and if he did well who knows? Maybe he could be the answer for life after Roethlisberger. The only concern might be the circus-like atmosphere that the Pittsburgh locker room has been in recent years. They might not need another non-football headline grabber.
New England Patriots- This is a long shot and it would depend on Jimmy Garoppolo being traded. No one drowns out the echos like Bill Belichick and company. If this were to happen Kaepernick would really have to prove himself worthy of making the roster. Belichick likes to experiment and won’t hesitate to cut a proven veteran. But if he were able to land a spot on the team what better place to turn his career around as Tom Brady’s understudy and working with an offensive mind like Josh McDaniels? Given Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady’s support of Trump could you imagine the head explosions it would cause?