The debate rages on over whether Colin Kaepernick is just a player without a fit in the NFL right now as he waits for the right situation to open up or if he is in fact being blackballed for the stance he failed to take during the playing of the National Anthem at San Francisco 49ers games last season.
According to the solid majority of Pro Football Weekly sources it is the former.
We did hear from one highly-placed team source that he believes that Kaepernick is being blackballed because teams just don’t want to deal with the distraction. But that source was unable to name any specific teams he was referring to and according to a number of other sources we talked to the claim just doesn’t make sense.
For starters Kaepernick is already on record as saying he’s accomplished his purpose and will be standing during future National Anthems.
Secondly, at this point wherever Kaepernick lands he will at least be going in as the backup. So after an initial round of questioning, how big a distraction will it be to have the backup QB standing during the anthem?
As one NFL general manager told me recently, his team and all of the other 31 clubs receive the lion’s share of their revenue from TV. Even if Kaepernick did decide to protest again, it would be unlikely to move that needle, and his club sells out every game or gets within at least a few hundred tickets – as do most NFL teams – so there really is no ticket revenue at risk by signing Kaepernick.
Concessions and parking aren’t a concern as fans at the game aren’t going to not park their car or eat and/or drink less because they don’t like the kid.
Licensed merchandise isn’t an issue because A) it is all shared through the league and B) backup quarterbacks don’t sell many jerseys and nobody is selling any Kaepernick jerseys if he’s not on a team.
There is really no financial risk – and we know that is first, last and always NFL owners’ concern – signing him. And there is a potential boom, since at this point he will come at a discount and if he plays well he might just drive some ratings, minimum ticket sales and jersey sales.
Are teams worried about putting the kid in their locker room? Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly certainly never were – who knew what was on Jim Tomsula’s mind – and an NFC coach told me he’s heard nothing but good things about Kaepernick from players that have been around him.
Several sources tell me they think he gained stature with a number of players around the league because of the position he took last year on the anthem.
He is different, to be sure, and there were reports of moodiness at times and other instances where Kaepernick was a bit of a loner. But as another NFC executive told me, “He’s certainly no Brandon Marshall and that guy keeps getting signed.”
The consensus we’re hearing here at PFW is Kaepernick is currently a man without a country – or team as the case may be because he’s just not an ideal fit for anyone’s offense, and he did not appear at any point last season to be 100 percent physically after three different surgeries during the last offseason.
Stylistically the closest comp for Kaepernick is probably Cam Newton, and that’s why so many eyes continue to look towards Buffalo with Sean McDermott now in charge and with a clear QB dilemma.
The recent decision by Pete Carroll to pass on Kaepernick and go with Austin Davis may say as much or more about the Seahawks locker room without him than it does about what it would be like with him.
Buffalo, the N.Y. Jets, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, the L.A. Rams and Minnesota all have potential issues at quarterback and more than one of those teams is almost certain to add some injury concerns at the position as well before the preseason is too far along.
It may not be the perfect situation, but Colin Kaepernick is just too good a football player not to be on an NFL roster and we’re hearing he almost certainly will be by opening day.