Conspicuously quiet during his extended stretch in free-agency, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently broke his silence. Sort of.
Kaepernick called Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe on Thursday night, after word emerged that Dr. Harry Edwards, described as an advisor to Kaepernick by USA Today, claimed three teams had reached out to Edwards about Kaepernick. Sharpe shared the contents of the conversation Friday, on FS1’s Undisputed.
“[Kaepernick] says, ‘People keep putting out that I’m asking for nine, ten million dollars,” Sharpe said. “Shannon, they don’t know what I’m asking for. I have not talked to, my representative has not talked to [teams].
“What I find even stranger,” Sharpe added, “is why are teams reaching out to a sociology professor and not calling the player and his representative himself? Dr. Harry Edwards says he’s healthy enough to play, but he can’t answer the question [of] does he want to play? You would think, you’re that close to Kaep, you don’t know if he wants to play? This is not adding up.
“Here’s something else,” Sharpe said. “It seems to me that everything that’s starting to disseminate out is coming from one organization. That’s the former organization that Colin Kaepernick played for. Now [49ers G.M.] John Lynch said early on he knew for a fact that one team wanted to sign Colin Kaepernick. It’s hard for me to believe that he could know that when he didn’t know the Chicago Bears were gonna take Mitchell Trubisky. . . .
“And what I find that since so much information is coming out of San Francisco, guess who’s been a paid consultant to the San Francisco 49ers for over 20 years? The very advisor that these alleged three teams have called. . . . Why would you ask Harry Edwards, who’s a sociology professor, whether or not Colin Kaepernick wants to play and whether or not he still can play when you can pick up the phone and call Colin Kaepernick himself, when you can call his representative yourself? . . .
“Something doesn’t smell right to me,” Sharpe said. “Talking to Kaep last night, no team has called him.”
This information meshes with our item from Friday morning, which explained that despite Edwards’ claim of multiple inquiries directed to him, no NFL team has reached out to Kaepernick or his agent. That article invited derision from Jason Whitlock of FS1, who argued via Twitter that Kaepernick should be the one contacting teams and not the other way around.
Although Whitlock’s message was somewhat obscured (as it often is) by his shtick and his style, he makes a valid point: What have Kaepernick and his agent done to affirmatively market the quarterback’s services? I’ve been unable to get an answer to that question. (Maybe Shannon Sharpe can, since he has a pipeline to the player.)
Perhaps Kaepernick and his agent have decided to wait to see whether anyone calls, given that the supply of competent quarterbacks doesn’t match the demand for even incompetent ones. Quarterbacks who didn’t nearly win a Super Bowl and who didn’t have a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 90.7 passer rating with a 2-14 roster don’t have to initiate contact with teams; the teams come after them.
Last year, Brock Osweiler got $37 million from the Texans without ever meeting them. For what? The 2012 draft pick (one year after Kaepernick) sat on the bench for three years before winning five regular-season games behind a quality offense complemented by a championship-caliber defense. But Osweiler didn’t have to go find Houston. Houston found him.
Examples of this dynamic at the quarterback position are rare, because quality quarterbacks rarely become available in free agency. Eleven years ago, Drew Brees found a landing spot and an eight-figure contract with the Saints in 2006 despite having more than 20 studs still in his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder. Although Peyton Manning went on to have four successful season in Denver, the jury was out in 2012 as to whether he’d thrive again. He had had four neck surgeries, and the nerves leading from his spine to his throwing arm were still in the process of regenerating. In hindsight it worked out well, but at the time Manning presented the same kind of calculated risk that the Saints took (and the Dolphins wouldn’t) on Brees six years earlier.
Even with that clear physical concern regarding Manning’s age, his neck surgeries, and his dead-but-eventually-resurrected arm, a dozen teams lined up for a chance to sign him.
That’s not, despite the best efforts of those on Twitter who like to jam 140 characters into their own real or contrived agenda, a comparison of Manning and Kaepernick’s careers and abilities. It is, however, a comparison of their circumstances. Manning, with very real health concerns in 2012, had his pick of teams. Kaepernick can’t even get one to pick up the phone and call him or his agent.
If you have personal disdain for Kaepernick based on his activities from 2016, that’s fine. But try to take a step back from that and be objective on this point: Does it make sense that teams would leak a smattering of flawed assumptions and false narratives aimed at justifying the decision to not even have a conversation with the guy?
If/when a team like the Browns or the Broncos (both of which wanted him a year ago, when he was recovering from three different surgeries but had yet to engage in activities that rubbed some the wrong way) were to admit that they don’t like his politics and/or they fear losing money via alienated fans and/or he’s not good enough to justify the extra media attention his arrival would invite, then a meaningful conversation and debate could be had regarding those concerns. Instead, it’s been a shell game of excuses and lies for more than two months, which means that those who are avoiding Kaepernick fear that telling the truth will look a lot worse than continuously trying to avoid it.