After The Protests: Kaepernick’s Future Is Uncertain


After The Protests: Kaepernick’s Future Is Uncertain

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2016 was a big year for Colin Kaepernick. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback became a household name after he refused to stand for the national anthem, choosing instead to “stand with the people that are being oppressed“.

The decisions was unpopular with many football fans, and it garnered tons of national media coverage. While the political debates played out front and center, the discussions were underscored by a second topic: Kaepernick’s decline as a quarterback.
Kaepernick signed a seven-year $126.97 million contract in June 2014 (the contract guaranteed $61 million), but chose to opt out of his contract at the end of this season to test free agent in 2017. Unfortunately for the 29 year old Milwaukee native, his level of play has declined over the past few years and now his future in the NFL is beginning to look a little shaky.

Although he’s shown some improvements, Kaepernick’s stats never returned to where they were in 2013. As an aging backup quarterback, he can’t expect to get the kind of payout he received in his last contract. He’s also a unique prospect for teams because of all the PR that comes along with him. In a league that generally leans right politically, many teams will be hesitant to sign such a controversial player.

At the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report talked to several NFL executives who indicated that they would not pursue Kaepernick if he continued to kneel during the national anthem. According to Freeman, one exec went as far as to call the quarterback “an embarrassment to football”. On the plus side, Kaepernick will benefits from the fact that are not a lot of game changing quarterbacks available in free agency or this year’s draft.

The two teams two teams whose names come up the most in discussions about Kaepernick’s future are the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns. Kaepernick was connected to the Jets in trade rumors for a while, but nothing ever materialized. More recently, Jets owner Woody Johnson told reporters the Kaep  “wouldn’t be my first choice”.

If they can look past the politics, Cleveland may be a more realistic option. The Browns took a chance on Robert Griffin III and they might be willing to do the same with Kaepernick. The two QB’s have similar skill-sets, which could make Kaepernick helpful as a backup, but the potential for failure would be very high.

Unfortunately for Colin Kaepernick, there’s no clear solution.