- Thearon W. Henderson/Getty
With NFL preseason games beginning this week, it seems as though Colin Kaepernick will remain unsigned.
Kaepernick was not in high demand during free agency, when he was rarely, if at all, linked to any teams with needs at quarterback.
And as free agency wrapped up and teams began reporting for OTAs, it became clear that NFL teams just weren’t interested in him because of his political beliefs and unconventional skill set.
Now, with training camps underway, Kaepernick may have just lost out on his two best chances to end up with a team, putting his 2017 season in further jeopardy.
Over the weekend, the Miami Dolphins spent $10 million to lure Jay Cutler out of retirement to fill in for the injured Ryan Tannehill. Cutler and Dolphins coach Adam Gase had a productive season together in Chicago in 2015 and Gase is reportedly one of the best coaches in the league at reaching Cutler, player many feel can be moody and aloof.
While Kaepernick was reportedly one of the Dolphins targets, so too were Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Craig Mish of SiriusXM reported that the Dolphins never even reached out to Kaepernick.
As Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman noted, there are reasons that make sense. Cutler is familiar with Gase’s system and Dolphins coaches likely would have had concerns about Kaepernick picking up the system. Additionally, while Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reportedly was open-minded to Kaepernick’s national-anthem protest, Kaepernick’s praise for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro likely would not have sat well with many Miami residents. Even still, Freeman poked holes in the pro-Cutler arguments:
“Kaepernick supposedly wants too much money. Based on a number of conversations with people across the league and others close to Kaepernick, however, I can tell you that no team has discussed money with Kaepernick.
“Cutler will get a $10 million base salary plus incentives, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“Kaepernick made some teams nervous, I was told, because there was a higher likelihood that his running style would make him more susceptible to injury.
“Cutler hasn’t played a full season since 2009.”
The one lingering situation for Kaepernick is with the Baltimore Ravens, but it feels as if that ship has sailed.
The Ravens reportedly considered signing Kaepernick to fill in for Joe Flacco, who injured his back in training camp. While the Ravens admitted weighing the signing, they still haven’t made a move. Ravens owner Steve Biscotti was “hesitant” over signing Kaepernick, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
The Ravens have a backup quarterback in Ryan Mallet, who reportedly hasn’t impressed in training camp, but may be a viable option until Flacco is healthy. The Ravens haven’t given an updated timetable for Flacco, but John Harbaugh recently said Flacco is getting better “every day.” The pressing need for Kaepernick might have already passed.
If the Ravens pass on signing Kaepernick, it’s unclear where his next opportunity may come from. Teams are deep into training camp now and preseason games will be underway shortly. Kaepernick’s best shot at joining a team could be if another starting quarterback gets hurt for a long period of time and the team doesn’t feel comfortable with its backup.
Teams are clearly concerned over fan and business reactions to signing Kaepernick because of his national-anthem protest (a protest he reportedly won’t continue in 2017). MMQB’s Peter King estimates that the media hype around any team signing Kaepernick would likely slow down when the games begin. Perhaps some team will wait until there’s actual football to use as a distraction.
Such a situation could still pop up, and perhaps the Ravens could still sign Kaepernick if Flacco doesn’t progress the way they’re hoping. But with the NFL regular season a month away, it’s harder to imagine a scenario