It’s time for Roger Goodell to call in a favor to one of his billionaire owner buddies or GM or coaching friends and get Colin Kaepernick signed.
As Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the draft, was falling right off the board into free agent-ville in 2014, there were rumors that Goodell called his good friend Jeff Fisher, the Rams coach, and asked him to use one of his three seventh-round picks on Sam and save the NFL the embarrassment of having to explain how the SEC co-defensive player on the year didn’t get picked.
There was even a report that in exchange for taking Sam, the Rams were guaranteed they would not be on “Hard Knocks” that summer with the implication being they didn’t want a circus with so many cameras at camp chronicling Sam’s every move.
Fisher said it was “absolutely absurd.” He may have been telling the truth because he did love playing to the cameras last summer when Hard Knocks showed up.
Sam was picked by Fisher but released in the final cut down that summer, spent some time on the Cowboys practice squad and was let go. He never played in a regular season game.
He just wasn’t very good.
Kaepernick is a different story. He may have declining skills but he’s better than a handful of starters and better than just about every backup.
If teams ran away from Sam because of his sexual orientation, it’s now clear teams have run away from Kaepernick because of his season long sit down/kneel down during the National Anthem in 2016 as he protested police brutality.
This is an emotional issue, as Giants owner John Mara pointed out.
Kaepernick is not an elite quarterback and so far not one team thinks he’s good enough to risk pushback from fans if they add him to the roster.
The Seahawks brought in Kaepernick and journeyman Austin Davis two weeks ago to interview for the potential No. 1 backup job to Russell Wilson. On Monday, they signed Davis. Pete Carroll’s explanation was weak. He claimed Kaepernick is a starting quarterback and the Seahawks already have a starter.
So now Kaepernick is too good to be a backup. That sounds disingenuous. It’s early June and nobody is signing him to start. Apparently, nobody plans to sign him to back up, either.
It’s time for Goodell to step in to save the owners from themselves.
Mini-camps are being held this week and next week around the league. There is some minor tinkering with the 90-man rosters between mini-camp and the opening of training camp the end of the July. After that, unsigned players sit around waiting for a phone call to sign as injury replacements over the summer.
Quarterbacks especially need time to get acclimated to new teammates. Unless somebody signs Kaepernick and brings him into a mini-camp next week, it’s likely he will not be signed before training camp.
It’s clearly not strictly a football decision when three ex-Jets — Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick — all signed with new teams in the offseason. The Cowboys depth chart after Dak Prescott reads Kellen Moore and Zac Dysert, who was signed Monday. Nick Foles, who hasn’t done anything in years, is the new backup in Philly. Josh McCown, with an 18-42 record in 15 years in the league, is the presumptive starter for the Jets.
More than 15 second-level QBs have signed with new teams in the last three months but Kaepernick, who nearly won the Super Bowl four year ago with the 49ers, is still out of work. Teams are scared off by his politics and his non-violent anthem protest last season.
Based on recent stories, it sounds like Wilson’s hold in the Seahawks on the locker room is tenuous. There’s always been resentment on the team that Carroll is overly protective of Wilson. Richard Sherman, the most outspoken player in the league, has been supportive of Kaepernick in his job search and is still ticked off at Wilson’s interception that cost the Seahawks the Super Bowl against the Patriots two years ago.
If Carroll signed Kaepernick, he would be inviting an explosive quarterback controversy the first time Wilson hit a slump during the season. Carroll would rather let Davis, who did not throw a pass in the NFL last season, fight it out with Trevone Boykin for No. 2 on the depth chart.
The Seahawks seemed like a perfect fit for Kaepernick: He and Wilson play a similar style; Seattle needs a reliable backup so Wilson doesn’t have to play hurt like he did last season; Seattle players were among the most supportive of Kaepernick’s protest last season; and, he played the first six years of his career in the NFC West, so he is familiar with the division.
Kaepernick’s visit to Seattle was the only one he has taken since opting out of his $14.5 million contract in March. If he had not opted out, the 49ers were going to cut him. But why would Carroll even bring him up to Seattle if he thought he was too good to be a backup? That makes little sense.
Even before the Davis signing was announced, Carroll said, “Colin’s been a fantastic football player, and he’s going to continue to be. At this time, we didn’t do anything with it, but we know where he is and who he is and we had a chance to understand him much more so. He’s a starter in this league. And we have a starter. But he’s a starter in this league and I can’t imagine that someone won’t give him a chance to play.”
It’s time for Goodell to call in a favor. Too bad Fisher is out of the league.