Colin Kaepernick continues to garner headlines as the most talked about player not on an NFL roster.
His stance on, or rather his decision to kneel during, the national anthem has made him a lightning rod of public opinion. But it’s also led many observers to hint that NFL teams’ reticence sign him indicate he’s being blackballed by the league. After all, this is a quarterback not too far removed from leading the San Francisco 49ers to two straight NFC Championship games and an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.
Nevertheless, those exploits are in stark contrast to his final two seasons in San Fran. Though he had no coaching continuity with Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly both lasting a year, Kaepernick finished with a paltry three wins compared to 16 losses as a starter in that span. It led to the coaching staff benching him in favor of Blaine Gabbert, now the likely backup to Carson Palmer in Arizona.
LeSean McCoy: Colin Kaepernick “Not Good Enough” to Justify Distraction
Given the national anthem issue, the first word which comes up in discussing a currently unemployed Kaepernick joining an NFL team is “distraction.” His presence in the locker room may adversely affect a dynamic geared towards overall team focus on the field. And for a quarterback who averaged less than two wins over the last two seasons, it’s simply not worth it.
That’s the sentiment of Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy. Heading into his ninth NFL season, the 29-year-old took a variety of questions from reporters on Thursday. It included responding to rumors that he’s on the trading block as part of a looming Bills tank job. But he also had some choice words on the issue of Kaepernick.
“I think his situation is (he’s) not good enough to have him on the team with all the attention that comes with it,” McCoy told reporters. “I’m sure if a guy like (Tom) Brady or a guy like whoever your favorite player, Odell Beckham or a guy like that, you’ll deal with that attention and play him.”
That becomes even more apparent given recent events. In the wake of the tragic violence in Charlottesville, VA and President Donald Trump‘s failure to adequately condemn the racist elements that fueled it, more NFL players are following Kaepernick’s example. The most prominent is arguably Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
But there are glaring differences between Kaepernick and Bennett when looking at it from a pure talent standpoint. The latter is a crucial component of a fearsome Seahawks pass rush that racked up 42 sacks last season. That total equaled the Broncos for the third best total in the league. A year earlier, Bennett led the team with ten sacks. So while his national anthem protest could be construed as a distraction, his talent more than makes up for it.
That isn’t the case with Kaepernick. What underscores that notion is another discussion McCoy had with the media concerning one Michael Vick. Now Vick vs. Kaepernick is certainly an apples and oranges comparison given that their controversial nature stems from differing circumstances. But McCoy continued to pull no punches in giving a frank assessment of Kaepernick.
“(Vick)’s ten times better than Kaepernick,” McCoy emphasized. “You’ll deal with that situation, that attention, that media aspect of it. The good, the bad attention you’ll get. Compared to Kaepernick, it’s like, he’s not really that good of a player to deal with.”
Regardless of his perceived ability as a quarterback, Kaepernick’s current exclusion from the NFL is generating plenty of pushback from his supporters. That was apparent on Wednesday during a rally in front of the league headquarters in New York City. Some participants called for a boycott of the NFL until a team signs Kaepernick.
There are teams whose situation at the position certainly warrants considering him, even if it’s in a backup capacity. The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be jettisoning the idea of Blake Bortles as their quarterback of the future, naming Chad Henne starter for Thursday’s preseason game against Carolina. Whether or not that’s a good fit remains to be seen. But any team with Kaepernick on its radar has plenty of issues to consider before ultimately bringing him in.
“You just got to look at all sides,” McCoy emphasized. “Like, if I’m an owner or the GM of a team, do I want to put him on my team? Is he good enough to be on the squad, to even deal with everything that’s going on?”