If you’ve watched ESPN in the past few months you’ve likely heard that race and politics are the reason Colin Kaepernick still hasn’t been signed.
Kaepernick’s fame escalated at the beginning of the 2016 season when he began protesting police brutality toward’s blacks by kneeling during the National Anthem. Many people now claim he isn’t being signed because of his protests.
There are however some major issues with this belief.
Earlier this spring Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, met with the old 49er’s quarterback. The Seahawks eventually signed Austin Davis, who has been on 3 teams and started just 10 games. Pete Carroll came out and said he was impressed by Kaepernick and that a factor in their decision was that he viewed Kaepernick as a starter, and the Seahawks already had one.
Important to note is that the QB opted out of his contract with San Francisco in March, which would’ve included a base salary of $14.5 million. Over the past two years, Kaepernick had split time with Blaine Gabbert, and the 49ers signed Brian Hoyer this year. The 49ers also signed a new GM, John Lynch, and coach, Kyle Shanahan.
These factors all seem to suggest that Kaepernick wanted a guaranteed starting position, rather than competing for the job or sitting as a backup, or he wanted more money.
It’s also necessary to study the QB landscape in the NFL right now, to know where Kaepernick could play. In 2016 he ranked 23rd of 30 among NFL quarterbacks according to ESPN’s QBR, with a score of 55.2. Additionally, with Osweiler leaving Houston, this leaves 10 teams (Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, Carolina, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Los Angeles) that may need Kaepernick.
Let’s break down the quarterback situations of these teams from a football, rather than political standpoint.
The Panthers and Giants would not sign him since they have what they see as franchise QBs, in Cam Newton and Eli Manning, respectively.
Chicago spent a lot of money and draft capital to get Tampa’s Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky out of UNC. Cleveland had a couple quarterbacks already, and picked up Osweiler from Houston, and drafted DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame. Houston used the 12th overall pick to take Deshaun Watson, who they want to be the eventual starter.
The LA Rams and Philadelphia Eagles are both invested in their #1 and #2 picks from 2016, Jared Goff and Carson Went.
The New York Jets picked up Josh McCown in the offseason on a 1 year, $6 million contract. This is likely just to add experience alongside 2016 draft pick, Christian Hackenberg, who will be the eventual starter. Additionally, this is much less than Kaepernick turned down from San Francisco, so he wouldn’t accept this deal.
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles have both struggled recently, but their teams have hope for these young QBs and view them as team leaders. Additionally, over the past 2 years Tannehill’s average QBR is 52.8, and Bortles’ was 52.55 in comparison with Kaepernick’s 51.1. Over that time span Kaepernick has also gone 3-15 when taking most of the snaps.
Miami and Jacksonville obviously wouldn’t throw away their starter for someone who isn’t noticeably better, and who wants a lot of money.
Teams want to win and will put aside their politics to do so. ESPN may claim it’s all about Kaepernick’s politics, protests or distractions, but the real reason he hasn’t been signed? He simply isn’t good enough.