ProFootballTalk

Kaepernick collusion case proving that teams viewed him as a starting quarterback

Remember when quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially went unsigned after becoming a free agent in March 2017? Remember the false and overstated concerns that were being pushed to justify the position that he was unemployed for football reasons? Remember when some said that was all a bunch of crap?

As it turns out, it was.

If the subtle-on-the-surface shift that happened last July, when Kaepernick’s status went from being about only football to being about non-football considerations, wasn’t enough to prove that the “all about football” narrative amounted to nonsense, the ongoing collusion case is establishing that multiple teams viewed Kaepernick as a starting NFL quarterback in 2017, and that they continue to view him that way. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, internal franchise documents generated as part of the free-agency evaluation process and testimony from witnesses harvested via depositions in the collusion litigation has established that teams viewed Kaepernick as being good enough not simply to be employed by an NFL team, but to be a starting quarterback for an NFL team.

So why wasn’t he?

The real reason has been obvious for more than a year, and if anyone still believes that Kaepernick’s unemployment arose from the belief that he couldn’t perform at a sufficiently high level, that’s just simply not the case. (Although at this point there’s no chance anyone’s long-made-up mind will be changing on anything related to Kaepernick, facts notwithstanding.) The deeper question becomes whether Kaepernick and his lawyers can prove coordination among the teams and/or through the league office in connection with the decision to steer clear of Kaepernick based on his role at the forefront of protests that occurred during the national anthem.

Whether coordination can or can’t be proven, the collusion case will conclusively prove one thing, regardless of whether anyone wants to believe it: Multiple teams believed that Colin Kaepernick was still good enough to play after becoming a free agent more than a year ago. Which means that, at least as to Kaepernick, the notion that teams make decisions based only on trying to win football games doesn’t hold water.