According to Mark Geragos, the attorney representing Colin Kaepernick in his collusion case against the NFL, the former 49ers quarterback could find himself on an NFL roster as early as next week. In the vaguest terms possible, Geragos implied two teams might be in the hunt for Kaepernick, and the bread crumbs he left, in an interview with TMZ, suggest the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.
In one of their man-on-the-street interviews, TMZ tracked Geragos down and asked him a few questions pertaining to the future of the former 49ers quarterback. Both the Patriots and the Raiders came up with a bit of a wink and a nod from Geragos:
When asked if teams were interested in signing Kaepernick, Geragos responded, "I would just say 'stay tuned,'" and that "next week there may be some news." Geragos mentioned that Kaepernick had been watching the Miami Dolphins to support his friend and fellow protestor Kenny Stills, and when TMZ asked if he was looking to join Miami, Geragos shot that down but then offered that "I've got two other teams that will remain nameless." When pressed, he said "I'll just say this: if [former Raiders owner] Al Davis was alive...."
The Raiders would make sense, with Oakland (where the team is for now) being so close to Kaepernick's former home, San Francisco, and the team's current backup QB being A.J. McCarron. Not to mention that current owner and son of Al, Mark Davis saying recently that he thought favorably of Nike signing Kaepernick.
But as for the Patriots hint, you might need to put on a tinfoil hat for this one. Geragos suspiciously went out of his way to mention Patriots owner Robert Kraft when TMZ switched gears and asked Geragos if he knew that rapper Meek Mill was going to be making a Kaepernick anthem. Geragos responded that he did, and then asked "you know who Meek Mill was visited by when he was in custody?" Someone offscreen said, "Robert Kraft," and Geragos let slip a kind of sly "bingo" in response and then walked away saying "that's it."
Maybe these adjacent conversations were completely unrelated—but Geragos did mention there were two teams, and then went on to specifically reference two specific franchises. We should keep in mind, though, like Geragos says in the video, that a year ago he made a prediction that a team would sign him "in the next 10 days," which didn't come to fruition.
The obvious question here is: Why now?
At the end of August, Kaepernick was awarded a significant victory in his collusion case when the arbitrator overseeing the case, Stephen Burbank, ruled against the NFL's motion for summary judgement, meaning that the case would proceed to an arbitration version of a trial: the presentation of evidence, and witness testimony sworn under oath, followed by a ruling from the "judge," Burbank. There's no official timetable set for when this "trial" would begin, but Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann suggests it could happen before the end of this year. This could be bad news for the NFL as it wraps up its season and heads toward the playoffs and its signature event, Super Bowl LIII. Plus, there's also this from McCann:
Burbank’s ruling also indicates that all 32 teams remain parties in the grievance. This is a subtle but potentially groundbreaking point since if Burbank finds that 14 or more teams engaged in collusion, the NFLPA could acquire the option of terminating the collective bargaining agreement.
This could be a potential disaster for the NFL and one surefire way to avoid it would seem to be Kaepernick signing with a team. Perhaps even in exchange for dropping the suit. The league has seen the response to Kaepernick—specifically that he would not damage the bottom line, but rather increase it—after a bump in Nike sales following his commercial that aired on opening night.
This is what Kaepernick's always wanted, and why he brought the suit in the first place. He should be on an NFL roster and it's more than a little suspicious that he's not. If a team does in fact sign him, which again is not even close to guaranteed, Kaepernick would once again have that big platform to get his message across, which is a hugely important one (and one the NFL would do well to align itself with): that we need to do something about the systemic oppression and discrimination that results in black people being disproportionately targeted and killed by police.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.