Multiple NFL figures recently have been talking about Colin Kaepernick. The question now becomes whether the talk will lead to action.
There’s still no reason to believe it will. Indeed, there’s no indication that anyone has actually reached out to Kaepernick or his representatives to discuss a potential visit or tryout or contract or anything. And so the question is whether the league hopes that it can talk about him just enough over the next few weeks until the eyes and ears of the nation move on to something else, or whether the talk about Kaepernick will indeed result in someone talking to Kaepernick about restoring him to an NFL team.
It still feels different now than it ever has, that someone will eventually and inevitably invite Kaepernick to show what he can do, and potentially to compete for a roster spot. Amazingly, he still hasn’t gotten a tryout with a team in nearly 40 months since becoming a free agent.
The Seahawks came the closest of anyone to doing it. Following a visit in 2017 that caused the Seahawks to conclude that Kaepernick is a starter and thus couldn’t be a backup and thus they had no interest in signing him (which makes many wonder why they brought him in for a visit in the first place), the Seahawks decided in early 2018 to give him a workout. The workout reportedly was canceled after the Seahawks sought a commitment that he wouldn’t kneel during the national anthem.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll recently denied that Kaepernick’s position on kneeling was a factor in the decision to scrap the workout. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Seahawks contend that they backed out of the workout because questions about his plans for the 2018 were promptly leaked to ESPN. The first report from ESPN regarding the workout, however, focused not on questions raised regarding Kaepernick’s plan but on the actual cancellation.
So if they already decided to cancel the workout before the leak, the leak couldn’t have caused the cancellation.
The team’s entire flirtation with Kaepernick remains odd. In 2017, he was too good to sign. In 2018, he needed a workout before he could be signed. The truth may be (is) that, in 2017, the organization was concerned that some of the players who were on the roster at the time would be inclined to agitate for Kaepernick to replace Russell Wilson as the starter. By 2018, the organization made a hard pivot toward clearing out any remaining anti-Russell players, which would have made it easier to avoid a schism over whether Wilson or Kaepernick should play, if Kaepernick had been signed to serve as Wilson’s No. 2.
Even now, Kaepernick clearly would be an upgrade over Geno Smith as the backup to Wilson. Kaepernick also would be better than the current backup (and/or a better fit as the starter’s understudy) in places like Buffalo, New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, L.A. (Chargers and Rams), Denver, Kansas City, Washington, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, and Arizona.
Will one or more of those teams or any other team give Kaepernick a proper evaluation and opportunity? Or will they simply talk about it, talk about it some more, and keep talking about it until people stop asking questions about him?
This time around, there’s a very good chance that the questions won’t stop being asked.