Rewind to February of 2013. The NFL is a totally different place. Peyton Manning hasn’t retired yet, Charles Woodson hasn’t returned to Oakland, and Tom Brady only has three Super Bowl rings. The Super Bowl was between Joe Flacco‘s Baltimore Ravens and Colin Kaepernick‘s San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens won, but the future looked bright for Kaepernick and the 49ers. Fast forward to the present and the former Super Bowl starter is a free agent in late March. What’s wrong?
The Curious Case of Colin Kaepernick
In 2013, Kaepernick was responsible for 3,721 total yards, 25 touchdowns, and only nine turnovers. He was a dynamic part of a NFC Championship team. He’s a free agent now, and it doesn’t look like anyone wants to sign him.
EJ Manuel, Josh McCown, and Brian Hoyer have all been signed, and they haven’t had anywhere near the kind of success that Kaepernick has had in the pros. So what’s the deal? Why hasn’t he gotten a shot yet?
Oh Say, Can You See?
Colin Kaepernick made headlines in 2016 when he refused to stand for the national anthem. This made headlines everywhere. This was covered by everyone from NFL.com to USA Today. Kaepernick had his reasons for choosing to sit instead of standing, but many people thought it was disrespectful, especially towards the sacrifices of veterans.
Kaepernick recently said that he would be standing in 2017, and yet he’s still a free agent. Is it at all possible that the distractions or behavior of Kaepernick could be bad enough to scare NFL teams off? Absolutely not, and here’s why.
The Harsh Truth
The NFL is a business. If someone believes a player can make them better, they’ll overlook just about anything. A perfect example of this is Michael Vick. Everyone knows what Michael Vick did, and in no world is it comparable to refusing to stand for the national anthem. However, the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Jets were perfectly content to give the human cheat code a chance.
The harsh truth is that Colin Kaepernick just isn’t a good NFL quarterback. Even in his best season, he racked up fewer than 4,000 total yards and only 25 touchdowns. In his second NFL season, Derek Carr had more yards and touchdowns through the air alone than Kaepernick.
The reality is that Kaepernick just isn’t a spectacular quarterback. You can’t win a Super Bowl with Kaepernick under center. But, what about guys like Geno Smith? Smith hasn’t even enjoyed the success that Kaepernick has, but the New York Giants signed him, didn’t they?
At the end of the day, Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent because of a couple of reasons. On one hand, he’s a mediocre quarterback. Colin Kaepernick wouldn’t transform the Cleveland Browns or the New York Jets into Super Bowl contenders, he’d be a stop-gap starter at best.
The harsh truth is that head coaches and general managers probably look at Kaepernick and think that he’s not worth the potential distractions. Agree or disagree with his beliefs, teams probably just don’t think he’s worth the distraction. Is it fair? Not really, but that’s the business world. Much like having a tattoo or a piercing, it’s someone’s right to say or do what they want, but it’s the right of the business to be selective about who they hire.