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NFL Teams Are Running Out of Reasons for Passing on Kaepernick

The Seahawks basically said that Colin Kaepernick was too good to be a backup quarterback and signed a dude who made ten starts for the Browns and Rams instead.
© Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

After opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers—because the Niners made it clear they would just cut him down the road—Colin Kaepernick has worked out for exactly one NFL team: the Seattle Seahawks. On Friday, head coach Pete Carroll explained that the team decided to pass on Kaep based on their belief that he was a "starter in this league," and they've already got one of those in Russell Wilson.


Opinionators have opinionated that Kaepernick shares the Seahawks' assessment of his ability and simply wants too much money to be a backup, which has been one of the theories bandied about to explain the quarterback's continued absence from any NFL roster. Kaepernick, who has been silent for most of this process, broke that silence on Monday, sort of, when he retweeted a ProFootballTalk story saying that the Seahawks and Kaepernick were not far apart in terms of money:

That same day, the Seahawks announced they had signed Austin Davis to be their backup quarterback. Looking at Davis's resume, he clearly fits the "don't want a starting-caliber backup quarterback" criteria in Seattle. Davis has made ten career starts in the NFL—eight with the 2014 St. Louis Rams and two with the 2015 Cleveland Browns—and has 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to his name. He did not play in the league last season. There is no reasonable football explanation for signing him over a man with 58 starts and a Super Bowl appearance.

As the Kaepernick saga continues to play out, it gets stranger and harder to align with reality. While there are legitimate football reasons teams may look at his film and see a quarterback who won't fit their system or long-term roster plans, it's become painfully clear that some teams are not signing Kaepernick because they do not want to invite the media circus that will follow him. It's also very likely that some owners and GMs don't like him for his politics—particularly for the silent protest he began last year by quietly sitting for the national anthem before a preseason game—and will cut off their noses to spite their faces.

The truly maddening part of this is that the longer Kaepernick remains jobless, the louder the circus gets, and the more disinclined teams will be to sign him.

The NFL has risk aversion baked into its DNA, and as the Kaepernick saga moved through the season, and now the off-season, it has become much easier for franchises to pretend he doesn't exist, regardless of his fitness for the position. It has somehow become much easier, and even "smarter" to sign the Austin Davises of the world than to take a flier on a guy who took a historic franchise back to the Super Bowl for your backup QB job.