We may have seen the last of Colin Kaepernick in the NFL
If Seattle doesn’t want the quarterback, where can he turn?
Colin Kaepernick may never play in the NFL again. Let that sink in. A mobile, 29-year-old quarterback who in the past five seasons started in two NFC championship games and one Super Bowl and amassed a touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio that ranks among the best in NFL history is out of the league without an apparent opening to get back in.
The prospect that Kaepernick’s NFL career could be finished became real this week after the Seattle Seahawks passed on signing the politically active player as a backup and instead added Austin Davis to their roster.
In picking Davis over Kaepernick, who has been seeking work since he opted out of his deal with the San Francisco 49ers ahead of free agency in March, Seattle chose a journeyman who has failed to establish himself as a viable NFL passer in stints with the Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. Davis didn’t even appear in a game last season.
During a recent radio interview, head coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks were considering Kaepernick to play behind starter Russell Wilson. The Seahawks and Kaepernick reportedly met in late May. Then Seattle signed Davis, even though Carroll said he believes that Kaepernick is a starter in the NFL. Seattle’s decision reportedly had nothing to do with money.
There’s only one logical takeaway: The Seahawks were concerned about potential fan backlash for signing Kaepernick, who ignited a nationwide debate by choosing not to stand during the national anthem — first sitting, then kneeling — in an effort to draw attention to the oppression of black people and people of color.
For some time, some African-American players have expressed anger that, in their opinion, Kaepernick is effectively being blackballed by owners because of his political stance. And there’s ample evidence to support that argument:
- Far less accomplished signal-callers have signed with new teams, Davis being the most recent.
- Owners have criticized Kaepernick’s form of protest and cautioned that a team that signed him could encounter major problems with its fan base.
- President Donald Trump has gone in on Kaepernick as well.
But something changed Monday. It felt like a new line was crossed. The Seahawks’ decision sent a loud message that the NFL could be completely done with Kaepernick.
If Kaepernick isn’t wanted by a playoff contender even though his skills are well-suited for its offense, where can he turn? Both Wilson and Kaepernick are dual-threat quarterbacks. By design, Wilson is on the move often. Kaepernick seemed to be an ideal fit for the Seahawks, especially considering their concerns at the position behind Wilson, who hasn’t missed a start in his five-year career but played through a variety of injuries last season.
The Seahawks were in the reserve QB market because Trevone Boykin, Wilson’s primary backup in 2016, hasn’t inspired confidence on or off the field. If Wilson is sidelined next season, Boykin and Davis are their current choices to lead a team that is all about reaching the Super Bowl.
Kaepernick has not been charged with a crime. He has not been accused of violating any aspect of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. He’s done nothing more than exercise his right to protest peacefully, which is protected by the Constitution. Yet, Seahawks decision-makers found it more palatable to potentially entrust their team, with the current roster’s shrinking championship window, to guys better suited to be third-stringers than Kaepernick, who at the very least has shown he’s capable of being better than any primary backup on the league’s 32 teams.
Kaepernick has experience (he has made 58 starts) and has the fifth-best touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio of all time. In that statistic, Kaepernick is better than Steve Young, Peyton Manning and Tony Romo, to name a few. NFL coaches want quarterbacks with experience who take care of the football. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem to matter that Kaepernick can check both boxes.
Even playing for the horrid 49ers last season — their roster is in the process of being overhauled by new management — Kaepernick showed big-play ability. San Francisco receivers had the second-highest percentage of dropped passes in the league. Still, Kaepernick completed almost 60 percent of his passes (59.2). He passed for 16 touchdowns and had only four interceptions.
Had the Seahawks signed Kaepernick, they would have added a player who, just like Wilson, has thrived on designed quarterback running plays.
Kaepernick has rushed for 2,300 yards (with a 6.1-yard average) and 13 touchdowns. Kaepernick and Wilson are great on zone-read plays, which are QB runs from a spread option formation that includes a lead blocker. They’ve both displayed outstanding decision-making while having to either run or hand off to backs based on the pursuit of the defense, “and if a team is running that type of offense, and Kaep is 100 committed to being the best he can in that type of scheme, it makes a ton of sense to bring him in,” an NFC offensive play-caller said.
That’s what the Seahawks passed on.
From a football standpoint, picking Davis over Kaepernick made no sense. Of course, the Seahawks’ decision wasn’t based on anything that had to do with football. That’s why what happened Monday was so chilling.
Any quarterback with Kaepernick’s career arc and touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio, at his age, would likely be on a roster if not for owners’ feelings about his protest. At this point, to argue otherwise would simply be illogical. The signing of Davis proved that.