Where Does The Beleaguered Quarterback Go From Here?
I’m sure many Americans support, identify, and agree with Colin Kaepernick’s cause. It’s a social problem that needs to be solved. Not to mention a resolution that will make us all better — as people and a society.
But just as the saying goes, ‘there’s a time and place’. Once Kaepernick started kneeling during the National Anthem, many decided he had crossed the line.
Once Colin Kaepernick became a free agent, season ticket holders warned their teams not to sign him. If they did, these fans vowed to relinquish their seats and never step foot in these stadiums again.
NFL ownership is comprised of business titans. They know how to build and manage product while driving a brand. They also respect the power of paying customers.
Any owner who felt Kaepernick might be an upgrade at quarterback wouldn’t pull the trigger, fearing this threat of backlash.
This fallout may loom too great for Kaepernick and any team that signs him.
There are teams that could use Kaepernick, or at least give him a shot. Despite his inactivity and the window on his career closing, Kaepernick could compete for backup opportunities.
The Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, and Carolina Panthers come to mind. All three teams use mobile quarterback systems, as do many others. A trend that’s beginning to spread league-wide.
A backup who is mobile with a winning history is an attractive option. Especially with the high injury rates to starting quarterbacks.
Another question surrounding Kaepernick is his talent, or is it?
League executives have always chosen their words carefully while speaking off the record. Some mentioned Kaepernick’s subpar football acumen and inability to read defenses. Others felt Kaepernick was overrated from the get.
Others claimed the backup QB's already on their rosters are better fits and players than Kaepernick. A weak argument considering the lack of experience, talent, and track records of these mentioned quarterbacks.
Kaepernick’s brief career and meteoric rise.
When Kaepernick quarterbacked the 49ers, the team won the most regular-season games combined over three consecutive seasons. In that span, Kaepernick lead San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII and the following season’s NFC Championship Game.
Two thrilling games that were decided on the final play — an incomplete pass in the end zone from Kaepernick. (In both games, Kaepernick did engineer last-minute drives to get the 49ers goal-to-go and attempt those passes).
Since the 49ers lost both games, it’s easy to dispel Kaepernick as a leader and a winner — classic traits of elite quarterbacks. And it’s elite QB's NFL teams are after. They’ve become the white whales of pro football.
The Seattle Seahawks and Kaepernick’s lone audition.
In the spring of 2017, Seattle invited Colin Kaepernick for a tryout and opportunity to be their backup quarterback. A shot to play second-string to starter and Super Bowl champion, Russell Wilson.
After the workout, the Seahawks decided not to offer Kaepernick a contract.
Seattle’s statement is puzzling: “We decided not to sign Colin Kaepernick, because we feel he’s too gifted to be a backup and deserves to be a starter.”
If Seattle felt this way, why didn’t they sign Kaepernick and keep quiet about it? A backup QB with a championship skill-set is not just a steal, he’s a golden calf.
Skeptics felt this was a concocted dog and pony show to appease Seattle’s diverse fan base. (At this writing, the Seahawks have just signed Geno Smith to compete for their backup role).
The CFL may remain Kaepernick’s only alternative.
What would it look like for his cause if Kaepernick decided to leave the country that spawned the problem he cares so deeply about?
I’m not suggesting that Kaepernick is considering the Canadian Football League. That said, his NFL future looks no more promising than the day he departed San Francisco as an unrestricted free agent.
If Kaepernick were to sign with an NFL team, every sports and news station would explode.
Not only would that team receive 24/7 coverage, but they’d also be pulled into the debate over Kaepernick’s cause. We all know cable news will flood their telecasts with race-baiting gurus, in-your-face activists, and other ‘experts’ — it’s a given.
Then it’s on to who won and who lost. Who’s right, who’s wrong, who should be ashamed and who owes an apology to the ‘offended’.
The news networks will bleed this story dry and trash all the NFL teams who didn’t sign Kaepernick, accusing them of bigotry and racism. To this end and fallout, who needs it?
Not the publicity team owners and the NFL would welcome. Kaepernick might be adequate to contribute, but not good enough for teams to fight this firestorm on his behalf.
Kaepernick’s grievance and his cash settlement.
After winning the summary phase of his lawsuit, Kaepernick agreed to withdraw his collusion case against the NFL and accept a cash settlement.
It’s believed Kaepernick will receive anywhere between 5 and 7 million, less legal fees. The actual numbers are unknown, due to a non-disclosure agreement between Kaepernick and the NFL.
Dissolving the lawsuit and awarding Kaepernick payment is the NFL’s nature of resolving the matter on league terms. To the NFL, it’s not about the money or an admission of guilt.
From the league’s standpoint, it’s an investment in the future and the ability to maintain control. The dividends and hard assets of this situation’s narrative.
Whether it’s an admission of wrong-doing by the owners or damages and lost salary to Kaepernick, it’s a win-win for the NFL.
It’s the NFL that remains in control of the situation and not Kaepernick. Despite Kaepernick’s public support, the cash settlement compromises his status.
Kaepernick might remain a media and cultural icon, but inside the NFL, he’s another out-of-work football player at the mercy of the owners.
To the NFL, this settlement is a right to move on. To put Kaepernick and his plight behind them.
Despite Kaepernick’s social support, he’ll continue to age. The NFL has seized control of the agenda while Kaepernick’s professional window closes.
Inactivity coupled with rusty and diminishing skill sets will ensure Kaepernick’s inevitable career death. The NFL might continue to shun the beleaguered QB, waiting out this eligibility.
A team may offer Kaepernick a chance, and even sign him to a league-minimum contract.
I’m not convinced the final chapter has been written and Kaepernick’s gone for good. Until then, Kaepernick will remain, dare I say it, taking a knee on the sidelines, unsigned and out of the NFL.