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Is Colin Kaepernick 'Finally' Making a Return to the NFL?
Looking at Why NFL Teams are Reluctant to Sign the 35-Year Old Veteran
Last week, the British Columbia Lions, part of the CFL, added Colin Kaepernick to their negotiation list. The 35 year old quarterback has not played a single professional game since January 1st, 2017. This news stirred up a lot of debate amongst football fans on whether Kaepernick was preparing a return to the NFL. Does the veteran quarterback still have juice remaining to make it back?
Although not having played for more than 6 years, Colin Kaepernick’s name has been on people’s mouth for quite some time after his release by the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. Especially with Aaron Rodger’s Week 1 injury, several fans have looked into whether Kaepernick would be a good fit in the Jets offensive system. The 6 year pro’s name has been brought up multiple times, specifically for teams that need a veteran quarterback’s game managing skills. However, despite these news, Kaepernick has still not found a team willing to take him in.
Colin Kaepernick has been firm with his interest in returning to the NFL. Not only has he written a request to the Jets GM on signing him in the practice squad, but he has also joined several workout sessions, including a one with the Las Vegas Raiders in May 2022, where GM Mark Davis had commented, “would welcome him with open arms”.
Many critics along with head coaches in the NFL believe that Kaepernick can still be a valuable asset in the league today. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has mentioned several times that Kaepernick deserves a second chance, along with the fact that he regrets not signing him in 2020. In fact, when compared with other veteran quarterbacks in the league, Kaepernick’s record in the NFL proves why he remains as a relevant subject.
Comparisons with the League Today
Despite only playing 11 games in the 2016-2017 season, Kaepernick finished the season with a 59.2% Pass Completion / 16 TDs / 4 INTs / 2,241 Yards.
Compare that to starting quarterbacks who played in the 2022-2023 season, Kaepernick has scored more touchdowns than 12 others, and more yards than 4 other quarterbacks. The list includes players like Baker Mayfield and Zach Wilson.
Fun Fact: Baker Mayfield still managed to sign a 1-Year $8.5 Million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2022-2023 season.
Rewinding The Events
So why are teams still reluctant to sign the veteran quarterback? In order to understand this, we have to rewind history to see what factors make this a difficult decision.
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, initiated a wave of protests in the NFL by kneeling during the national anthem to highlight racial inequality and police brutality. This act polarized the nation, with some viewing it as a heroic stance against racial injustice and others perceiving it as disrespectful to the flag and military. Since becoming a free agent in 2017, Kaepernick has remained unsigned by any NFL team.
With his support for social justice, Kaepernick also featured and narrated a Nike Ad Campagin, ‘Dream Crazy’, where he addresses his beliefs to fight for something greater. The campaign also stirred up a lot debate, where Nike’s shares had once dropped by up to 3.2%. President Donald Trump also followed up on his X (previously, Twitter) account, calling out Nike and Kaepernick’s choice of actions.
The important part of this controversy is not looking at whether or not Kaepernick was right or wrong, but more so looking at the public’s reaction. Athletes, just like any other public figures, have to be mindful of their words and actions, especially with controversial subjects. Manny Pacquiao once commented that people in same sex relationships “are worse than animals”, provoking a global storm and boycotting of his events.
This becomes a bigger issue when associated with a specific team or organization. Signing a player that supports a certain stance, indirectly translates to the team also supporting the same claim. This can have a major impact on the team regarding its fan bases and business. And yes, sports teams are a business and so we have to look at it in a business perspective.
For instance, ABinBev was recently involved in a controversial standoff, when it decided to feature Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, as part of its marketing campaign. Soon after, Bud Light, one of ABinBev’s core product lost its No.1 spot in the US market, along with a 30% decline in US revenues.
With that in mind, NFL teams and owners are careful in whether signing Kaepernick can have an affect on the team outside of the field.
Colin Kaepernick’s return to the NFL still remains as an everlasting question. And the slightest of hope will continue to fade as the veteran quarterback continues to fade.
*Keep in mind that Aaron Rodgers is still in the NFL at 39 years of age
Instead of simply asking teams to sign him in to the practice squad, Kaepernick will need to look at how he can change the minds of NFL owners. Note that once again, NFL owners are all business owners and that they will only make business decisions. As time runs out, will we ever have to chance to watch Kaepernick throw the ball one last time?
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