Why Are NFL Teams Taking Risks On Players With Legal Issues, But Not Colin Kaepernick?

NFL teams are feeling out Colin Kaepernick from afar. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)
NFL teams are feeling out Colin Kaepernick from afar. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

When it first was suggested this offseason that Colin Kaepernick was being blackballed by NFL teams because of his political statement made last year, it seemed premature to evaluate the validity of that claim.

At that point, some teams still were sorting through their starting-quarterback situations, so backup jobs could be settled later. Offseason practices still were to come, and training camp, the preseason and the regular season were a long way off.

But now it’s not so early in the offseason. Free agency was pretty much done quite a while ago. The NFL draft has come and gone. Quarterbacks who didn’t play as well as Kaepernick did last season, including former teammate Blaine Gabbert, have found work. And still, Kaepernick remains without an NFL job.

It’s time for that to change. This isn’t supposed to be about politics. And it’s clear to those in and around the league that Kaepernick, the former Super Bowl starter who threw 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions to go with a passer rating of 90.7 last season, belongs on a roster for 2017.

“I don’t know exactly what’s going on, and I can’t speak for other teams,” said an executive with one NFL franchise whose team is not in the market for a quarterback, speaking on the condition of anonymity last week because of the sensitivity of the topic. “If you base it on his play, he clearly should be signed somewhere.”

Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said in a radio interview Monday he is considering Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III as candidates to back up Russell Wilson.

“We’re looking at everybody,” Carroll told a Seattle radio station when asked about those two players. “We really are. We’ve been tracking everything that’s going on, and we’ve got [salary] cap and roster issues and stuff like that that we’re still trying to manage properly. But quite frankly, yes, we are looking at all those guys.”

Carroll and the Seahawks are right to look at Kaepernick. For now, they have Trevone Boykin backing up Wilson.

But the Seahawks shouldn’t be alone. Peruse the list of backup quarterbacks throughout the NFL. It includes Kellen Moore in Dallas, Case Keenum in Minnesota, Derek Anderson in Carolina, Ryan Mallett in Baltimore, Scott Tolzien in Indianapolis, Chad Henne in Jacksonville, Matt Cassel in Tennessee, EJ Manuel or Connor Cook in Oakland, Kellen Clemens with the Los Angeles Chargers, Sean Mannion with the Los Angeles Rams, Matt Schaub in Atlanta, Nick Foles in Philadelphia, Brett Hundley in Green Bay and Ryan Griffin in Tampa.

Gabbert was signed by the Arizona Cardinals. Geno Smith was signed this offseason by the New York Giants.

And Kaepernick cannot get a job.

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