The decision of the Panthers to sign safety Eric Reid constitutes a stunner, because many had presumed that the NFL’s owners would never relent or retreat in the face of the collusion grievances filed by Reid and former 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick. So now that Reid has been signed, is Kaepernick next?
It’s a fair question, since it’s possible that Carolina’s decision to proceed — and the public reaction to it — could give a team that needs help at the quarterback position confidence that, if Kaepernick is signed, the fans won’t rush for the exits, the sponsors won’t abandon the team en masse, and the TV ratings won’t plummet.
If anything, adding Kaepernick could help a team. Especially if that team currently is facing, for example, the balance of a season without a franchise question like Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers have four prime-time games from Week Six to Week 10, and the ratings for those games instantly would be dramatically higher if Kaepernick were back playing quarterback for the team that drafted him in 2011.
While the league should want that increased interest, the league may not want it on those terms.
For the 49ers, who like every team are in an entertainment business, the increased interest could be welcome. And justified. Sure, it would be a challenge to get Kaepernick up to speed quickly, but just as the Broncos dramatically retooled their offense in 2011 for Tim Tebow, the 49ers could do the same for Kaepernick.
Whether it’s the 49ers or someone else, it’s beyond argument that he’s talented enough to have one of the top two spots on plenty of depth charts. It will be interesting to see whether the willingness of the Panthers to sign Reid will make a team that needs an upgrade at quarterback to sign Kaepernick.