The moment that attorney Mark Geragos said Colin Kaepernick could still play in the NFL even after settling his collusion grievance — and predicted that someone soon would “do the right thing” and sign him — I started to think it would never happen. The moment Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal reported that Kaepernick and Eric Reid received a total of less than $10 million to settle their collusion grievances, I became convinced that no NFL team will ever sign Kaepernick again.
The fact that I’m stating it this strongly likely means that someone will sign him this weekend. But that would be a shock. The league bought the past ability to shun Kaepernick for less than $300,000 per team, gladly welcoming the possibility that Kaepernick could sue them again, if he continues to not be gainfully employed by the NFL.
Most recently, the Dolphins had to scramble for a quarterback, and they apparently never gave a moment’s consideration to Kaepernick, even though new coach Brian Flores once witnessed first hand while working as a Patriots assistant coach the things Kaepernick can do. With offseason rosters at 90 and no one even mentioning the possibility of signing Kaepernick, it’s feeling more and more like the ship has permanently sailed, with the league ultimately buying their way out of an ongoing P.R. headache for the equivalent of a bag of boiled peanuts.
So why did Kaepernick take the deal when he could have forced the NFL to go through the motions of a full-blown arbitration hearing? It’s believed that the hearing would have lasted for much of the year, in fits and starts as sessions of the hearing convened on the turf and at the convenience of the various owners who would have been testifying — a far different approach than a hearing that would have unfolded like the trial in the Seinfeld finale, with one owner after another walking through the double doors of a big conference room to be placed under oath and grilled at lenght. It’s also possible (total speculation alert) that the arbitrator sent a clear message to Geragos at a final pre-trial hearing that the evidence of collusion was lacking and that Geragos and Kaepernick were potentially going to spend a lot of time and travel money to ultimately win nothing.
The arbitrator likewise may have persuade the NFL to divert the massive legal and travel expenses that would have been incurred for the full-blown hearing to a settlement fund, kick in a little extra for good measure, and there’s the done deal. And Kaepernick likely will to not try to take a second bite at the collusion crabapple based on any future unemployment. The next time around the evidence would have been even harder to come by, because the league would be smarter about not generating any of it.