We are exactly 100 days away until the start of the 2017 NFL season. Teams are still signing players and making adjustments as they figure out what they have and what they need before training camps open later this summer. But despite the fact that Colin Kaepernick took the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2013 and got a huge contract in 2014, he finds himself without a team in 2017.
Every team needs a good starting quarterback and a good backup. So, why is a Super Bowl quarterback, who’s only 29 years old and was once considered one of the hot new players, sitting around waiting for an offer?
Kaepernick has started 57 games in six seasons with a 28-30 record, 72 touchdowns with 30 interceptions and 2,300 yards rushing with 13 rushing touchdowns. Those are stats that would get any other quarterback work. And, unlike with running backs who are considered at the end of their careers at 30, quarterbacks are considered to be entering their prime at 30.
Kaepernick was part of a controversy when he decided not to stand for the National Anthem before a pre-season game. It was a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. He told reporters:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
He later changed to kneeling during the anthem in a way to continue his protest, but also show respect for the men and women who have served in the armed forces.
Is the protest enough to keep teams from signing Kaepernick? I wouldn’t think so. But the bulk of his success came in 2012 and 2013 under coach Jim Harbaugh and before his big contract. By then, the word is that Kaepernick can’t make all the throws regardless of arm strength and that most of his success has come from his running. Teams started figuring out if they could keep him in the pocket then they’d have a better chance. The season ended with an 8-8 record and Harbaugh moving on. He never clicks with new coach Jim Tomsula who is only there for one season. After a poor 1-4 start, Kaepernick is benched for Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick’s record for 2015 was 2-6 and in 2017 he started 11 games only winning 1 for coach Chip Kelly.
On March 1st of this year, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers. Reports say if he hadn’t, the team would’ve cut him anyway. He drew no interest from any of the teams with a quarterback vacancy. His best chance seems to be signing as a backup with the Seattle Seahawks. He’d be sitting behind Russel Wilson, a QB he was often compared to a few years back. He visited with the team recently, but no deal is imminent, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport.
Did his protests turn teams against him? Did he become a diva when he signed his big contract? Can he only succeed in an offense similar to the one Harbaugh ran? Do NFL defenses have him figured out? At this point, I think it’s all of the above.
Kaepernick came on the scene like gangbusters and teams didn’t know how to defend him. It was the perfect storm of events that took him from one of the top young gunslingers to on the outside looking in. I doubt that he’s done. A team will either realize they don’t have the talent at QB they thought they had or an injury will create an opening and he is likely to get another chance. With the right situation, I think he could turn it around. With only 100 days until the season starts…the clock is ticking.