The Trouble with Colin Kaepernick

Five seasons ago, Colin Kaepernick was a blown personal foul penalty away from leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl title. During his playoff run, he set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in any game. After the following season he signed an extension worth $54 million guaranteed. Despite struggling under two coaches who would only last a season each, he still threw for 16 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions on a team bad enough to secure the #2 pick in the draft.

And today he can’t find a job.

Of course, you already know that. And you probably know that Kaepernick is good enough to be one of between 64 ad 96 quarterbacks employed by an NFL team. And you definitely know that Kaepernick being out of a job has absolutely nothing to do with how well he plays on the football field.

But instead of launching into the stupidity of why Kaepernick can’t find a job or debating the appalling nature of how he’s being treated by the League and its member teams, I’m instead going to participate in a little experiment.

Last week, I listened to local sports talk personality Mike Valenti lament the stupidity of the Jacksonville Jaguars opening their quarterback competition between Blake Bortles and Chad Henne, instead of handing it over to either of the outright. Obviously, Valenti pointed out that it was asinine that the Jaguars would start the season with either of these 2 as their starting QB, and insisted that they were idiots for not calling Kaepernick. But, for reasons I’ll get to later, it’s not nearly that simple.

So I’m going to examine every team’s quarterback situation and determine whether or not they should bring in Kaepernick and examine just how deep his so-called blackballing goes.

AFC East
Buffalo Bills – Tyrod Taylor, TJ Yates, Nathan Peterman. None of these have ever done anything in the NFL and Taylor is so inept as a QB that the team benched him rather than risking injury and triggering his contract to become guaranteed. Kaepernick’s an upgrade over any of them.

Miami Dolphins – Matt Moore, Retired Jay Cutler, Brandon Doughty, David Fales. The Dolphins’ QB position opened up when Ryan Tannehill blew out his knee in the preseason, but one could argue that Kaepernick would be an upgrade over him as well. Logically he’d be a perfect fit here, but then we look at the political situation. Kap once did a press conference in a Fidel Castro t-shirt and compared his regime to those in the U.S. (I never argued that Kaepernick was the smartest knife in the block). And in the city with the nation’s largest concentration of Cuban exiles, that’s a non-starter. No go in Miami.

New England Patriots – Tom Brady, Jimmy Garopolo, Jacoy Brissett. Not even worth discussing, and easy no.

New York Jets – Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg. Unless the Jets are playing for the #1 pick in 2018 (which is entirely possible), Kaepernick could sign 5 minutes before kickoff and be the starter for this embarrassing franchise.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett, Thaddeus Lewis, Josh Woodrum. It’s widely believed that when Flacco went down with an injury that would keep him out for a week during the preseason, Ravens owner Steve Biscotti nixed any chances of signing Kaepernick over ticket sales concerns. But while Mallett sucks, he’s definitely more in line with Flacco’s style of play and if Flacco goes down the Ravens are probably screwed anyway. No point in rocking the boat when Flacco will be back for the regular season.

Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron, Jeff Driskel. Established starter, similarly styled backup, so no need here.

Cleveland Browns – Brock Osweiler, DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan. Kizer is likely the Browns’ designated QB of the Future for 2017, but Kaepernick plays with a similar style and could be a good mentor (as much as a guy everyone thinks is a cancer can be a mentor). He’d definitely make sense in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs, Bart Houston. They’ve got a future HOF’er as their starter and Kaepernick isn’t the same style QB. Pittsburgh’s set.

AFC South
Houston Texans – Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson, Brandon Weeden. In this putrid division Houston has gone to the playoffs with Savage, Brock Osweiler and TJ Yates. Kaepernick could come in and do the same and provide a stop-gap before Watson takes over for the next decade.

Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris, Philip Walker. Assuming Luck is healthy (the new version of “Assuming Matthew Stafford is healthy”), they’re set for years, and they’re probably doomed if he’s not. No point here.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Brandon Allen. ¬†Considering a conversation about this team’s QB situation inspired this post, this seems like a no-brainer. However, I once read an anecdote that Jacksonville is so racist that when David Garrard was the QB the team was practically forced to sign two black quarterbacks to back him up for fear of fan backlash that the white guy wasn’t starting. In a world where Tim Tebow is a free agent and also the walking messiah in northern Florida, Kaepernick wouldn’t stand a chance here.

Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney, Tyler Ferguson. Mariota isn’t going anywhere, and there’s a solid argument to be made that Kaepernick is a better QB than Cassel. With a similar playing style and Mariota’s tendency to get hurt, Kaepernick could be a good backup option here.

AFC West
Denver Broncos – Trevor Simian, Paxton Lynch, Kyle Sloter, Chad Kelly. With the exception of Kelly, who’s only known because he’s Jim Kelly’s nephew and a total asshole off the field, all of these guys are anonymous nobodies (redundant?) who have done nothing. Kaepernick could fit here.

Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray, Joel Stave. Kaepernick has already beaten Smith in a QB situation and has a similar playing style to Mahomes, who the Chiefs took in the first round this year. If Mahomes isn’t going to play this year, I’d take Kaepernick over Smith, and if he is, Kaepernick would be a capable backup and mentor.

Los Angeles Chargers – Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens, Cardale Jones, Mike Bercovici. I could see Jones as the eventual heir apparent to Rivers, and the playing styles aren’t particularly similar. No fit here.

Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Connor Cook. As a Michigan State grad, I’m supposed to stand up for Connor Cook, but the guy sucks and was a well-known asshole who could very easily wear out his welcome wherever he goes. Derek Carr might’ve been MVP last season if he hadn’t gotten hurt, so he’s not going anywhere. Kaepernick might be a good fit in a couple of years when the Raiders move to Vegas where he’s from, but no dice this year.

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys – Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore, Cooper Rush, Luke McCown. Prescott isn’t going anywhere, but Moore isn’t much of a runner and Kaepernick would allow an easy transition if Prescott were to get hurt. Plus, Jerrah loves him some controversy and would sign Hitler if he could run for 1500 yards. Not only is Kaepernick a decent fit for Dallas, I’m borderline floored that he hasn’t signed there yet.

New York Giants – Eli Manning, Josh Johnson, Geno Smith, Davis Webb. Just as a little aside, it’s amazing where Eli Manning ranks on the all-time passing lists (8th in passing yards, 7th in touchdowns, completions, and attempts, etc.). He’s been a joke for his entire career and he’s a definite first-ballot Hall of Famer. As for the Giants, I’m amazed that Johnson and Smith are still in the League, and they’re in the same mold as Kaepernick. Of course, their owner is the guy who signed a kicker whose wife had called the police on him over 20 times and complained that he’d gotten more calls about not signing Kaepernick than any player ever. He would make sense here as a player, but because their owner’s a douche, he won’t.

Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Matt McGloin, Dane Evans. Wentz was the #2 pick in the NFL draft and barring a Teddy Bridgewater type injury he’s not going anywhere for a while. All of his backups are in a similar mold as Wentz, so Kaepernick doesn’t make sense here.

Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld. I’ll be damned, Colt McCoy is still in the League! I’m absolutely stunned. Anyhow, you’d have to think that someone who’s as dedicated to social justice as Kaepernick is wouldn’t sign with the team with the most racist name in sports, so this one’s a pretty simple no.

NFC North
Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez, Mitch Trubisky, Connor Shaw. The Bears made arguably the biggest free agent signing of the offseason, then made the dumbest draft day trade in history to take another QB. And then, just for good measure, they signed the immortal Butt Fumble! So, no, I’d say Kaepernick doesn’t fit here.

Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford, Jake Rudock, Bye Felicia Kaaya. Stafford’s not likely to go anywhere and half of Detroit wants Rudock to take over yesterday. Kaepernick would not go over well in this town.

Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley, Joe Callahan, Taysom Hill. Who has ever heard of any of Rodgers’s backups? And I mean this year, Matt Flynn doesn’t count ever since the Lions turned him into an immortal. So no, I’d say Kaepernick doesn’t fit here.

Minnesota Vikings – Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Taylor Henickie, Mitch Leidner. Obviously Teddy Bridgewater was the QB of the future until he had to have his leg reconnected. Kaepernick has done more than any of these QB’s in their career, so I’d bring him in. It would make the ridiculous draft bounty they gave up for Bradford look pretty stupid, though.

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Simms, Alex Torgersen. Seriously? The Falcons have 3 QB’s named “Matt” on the roster. Was that intentional? Not that it really matters, but Ryan won the MVP last year and the backups are similarly styled, so no Kaepernick here.

Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb, Garrett Gilbert. Kaepernick is essentially Cam Newton Lite, and Newton’s bound to have his brain scrambled by one of the 47 hits to the head that the refs don’t penalize this season. Carolina probably makes more sense than any other team for Kaepernick.

New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees, Chase Daniel, Garrett Grayson, Ryan Nassib. The Saints seem to like undersized QB’s who took their schools to unexpected bowl games. Kaepernick doesn’t seem to fit that particular mold, or the Saints’ system for that matter, so no.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, Sefo Liufau. The Bucs clearly like rapists (sorry, “accused” rapists) as opposed to guys who stand up for injustice, so I’d say he doesn’t make a ton of sense here. Then again he and Winston have a similar style, so let’s go with yes.

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert, Trevor Knight. I’m actually floored any of these guys are still in the League, although obviously Palmer is in a different category than the other 3. Palmer probably has a year or two left, but Stanton has a playing style similar to Kaepernick and isn’t nearly as good. By those standards I might bring him in, but probably better to leave well enough alone.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff, Sean Mannion, Dan Orlovsky. Goff may well suck, but he was the #1 pick in the draft last season so he’ll be around for a while. All 3 QB’s are similar styles, and Kaepernick isn’t the best fit, so no go here.

San Francisco 49ers – Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, CJ Beathard, Nick Mullens. As someone who’s watched Michigan State for over 20 years, I have no idea how Brian Hoyer ever took a snap in the NFL, let alone lasted 8 seasons. Kaepernick is better than any of these guys with his eyes closed. I have no clue why he opted out of his contract, but he shouldn’t have.

Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin, Austin Davis. Seattle’s the only team that even brought in Kaepernick for a tryout. Then they signed Austin Davis, and if you said you know where he went to college, you’re a liar (Southern Miss, by the way). After the defense supposedly shit all over Russell Wilson I can actually understand why the Seahawks didn’t sign Kaepernick – the last thing Pete Carroll needs after a Wilson interception is Richard Sherman screaming in his ear to put in Kaepernick. So I’ll say it makes sense that Seattle passed.

So by my count, I see 12 teams where Kaepernick could fit, 15 where he doesn’t, and 5 (Miami, Jacksonville, Washington, NY Giants, and Seattle) where political issues interfere. Twelve teams, several of whom have signed domestic abusers and players who can’t pass a drug test, won’t make their team better because he chooses to protest the injustices in this country.

There’s much to be said about Colin Kaepernick’s protest. Personally, I’ve got no problem with it, although I think Kaepernick’s hurt his cause by wearing socks showing police dressed as pigs and a Fidel Castro t-shirt and proclaiming that he wouldn’t vote because it didn’t matter who won, which is absurd. And obviously the people who disagree with Kaepernick’s protest have as much right to their opinion as I do.

But you’ve got to admit that when you look at the ease with which guys like Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Josh Brown, Pacman Jones, and Leonard Little found jobs after far more appalling behavior, it’s hard to argue that the NFL has its priorities in order.

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