Let’s see if we can add a little clarity to the debate that never ends: Should Colin Kaepernick be on an NFL roster?
There’s no debate Kaepernick is good enough. None. Even if you don’t like his non-stance during the national anthem, or that he’s been average at best since Jim Harbaugh left the Niners, Kaepernick is still better than the dumpster fire that was Scott Tolzien on Sunday.
But being good enough to be on a roster doesn’t mean he should be on a roster, not with the baggage Kaepernick brings. Even if you support his non-stance during the national anthem, reasonable people can agree that Kaepernick’s protests have not been without vitriol. He’s on multiple occasions compared police to slave patrols, worn socks depicting cops as pigs and has filled his Twitter feed with messages that America is “anti-black” and is predicated upon a system of “white supremacy.” He’s also attempted to shame several NFL owners by pointing out they donated to President Trump’s inaugural campaign. Putting aside what you think of Trump, are you hiring someone who’s attempted to publicly shame you?
So yeah, when it comes to Kaepernick, it’s more complicated than just, “Is he good enough to be on a roster?” The real question is: What’s the cost benefit of hiring Colin Kaepernick?
As a back-up quarterback, it’s a negative. No question. Kaepernick sitting on the bench earns a team no wins, only public relations points, and since polling shows more fans oppose Kaepernick’s non-stance, it’s a net-negative for ownership, even those he hasn’t personally targeted.
So signing Kaepernick to be a back-up makes no sense.
That leaves signing him as a starter. How many teams are starting quarterbacks right now they’d bench in favor of Kaepernick?
Let’s go through the list:
Bills: No, Kaepernick isn’t an upgrade to Tyrod Taylor
Dolphins: No, Jay Cutler, familiar with head coach Adam Gase’s system, is a better fit
Browns: No, drafted a young QB, want to see what they have
Jaguars: No, giving Blake Bortles one more shot
Colts: Yes (right now)
Texans: No, drafted a young QB, want to see what they have
49ers: No, doesn’t fit their new offensive scheme
So two teams: the Jets and Colts.
The Jets are so bad, putting Super Bowl LI fourth-quarter Tom Brady under center wouldn’t improve their chances. Plus, owner Woody Johnson is one of those shamed on Kaepernick’s Twitter feed for donating to Trump’s inaugural committee, so no. Better to tank in the chase for Sam Darnold than scratch out an extra win or two with some stop gap.
That leaves the Colts. And this is where it gets interesting.
Does Indianapolis think it’s a playoff team with Andrew Luck under center? If so, and if they think Luck is going to be healthy enough to play at some point this season, do they think they have a quarterback to keep them in contention until he gets back?
It’s hard to believe Tolzien is that guy after Sunday’s disaster against the Rams, but is Jacoby Brissett? More to the point at hand, does Brissett provide the Colts a better chance to win than Kaepernick?
Maybe. Maybe not. Hard to determine given Brissett’s short (albeit serviceable) time on the field. And if you’re Colts owner Jim Irsay, is this a gamble you want to take? Probably not.
So while Colin Kaepernick is good enough to be on an NFL roster, there’s no place for him to go. Not as a starter. You can argue differently. Just remember you aren’t the one writing the checks to pay the bills.
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