Best Landing Spots for Colin Kaepernick
One of the major story lines of this NFL off-season has been Colin Kaepernick and the supposed “blackballing” he has gone through in search of his next team. I say supposed because there were many factors that accounted for him not being signed, from his poor play during the past two seasons, to team fit, to his want to sign as a starter, and yes, his protest during the National Anthem last season.
At the start of free agency it may have been alright to bring up these points but soon after, we moved to the draft and many teams decided to put signing players on hold until its conclusion. Now, though, it’s time to open up the discussion again about his potential landing spots based on the post-draft results. Some teams, like Cleveland or Houston, filled their need during the draft. Others, like the Jets and San Francisco, have publicly made comments about not wishing to sign him. With that in mind, let’s look at the contenders.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are in a bad spot with QBs. Starter Jared Goff struggled in his first year, completing 54.6% of his throws for only 5 touchdowns and 7 picks. Their backup, Sean Mannion, is in his third year and has only thrown 13 career passes. Not exactly a great group of QBs new head coach Sean McVay has to work with, which is why Kaepernick makes sense here. He brings experience to a group with very little, can provide teams with something else to think about with his legs, which would open up space for Todd Gurley, and give McVay a backup option in case Goff gets hurt or struggles early.
Los Angeles Chargers
Sticking with the city of angels, the LA Chargers (how weird is that?) present an interesting case. Colin won’t start, that goes without saying. Phillip Rivers has had a hold on the franchise since 2004 and that’s not going to change in the near future. Rivers, though, is on the wrong side of 30 and may be looking towards retirement soon. Their backup option, Kellen Clemons, is a 33-year-old career backup; not exactly a guy waiting in the wings to spurn a franchise. With that in mind, new head coach Anthony Lynn could bring in Kaepernick to play backup while Rivers finishes his career. A similar QB to the one he left in Buffalo (Tyrod Taylor), Lynn could groom Kaepernick and use him as a bridge to the next long term option for the franchise.
Carson Palmer’s career is all but finished. After a great campaign during the 2015 season where he led the Cardinals to the NFC championship game, Palmer looked like a shell of himself last season, seeing him throw 9 less TDs, 8 more turnovers, and nearly 2 less yards per completion. Backup Drew Stanton, much like Clemons in LA, is 33 and not exactly an enticing option going forward. Enter Colin Kaepernick. Head coach Bruce Arians has done wonders for his QBs, giving Colts QB Andrew Luck his best season and revitalizing Palmer’s in Arizona. RB David Johnson would help take some of the burden from Colin and a sure handing Larry Fitzgerald, plus a host of young WRs could help revitalize a once dead career.
Let’s all agree on one thing: Blake Bortles hasn’t been all that great. Every season is the one where he’ll elevate his team and bring them closer to competing in the AFC South, a relatively easy division to navigate. Yet every season brings disappointment as he hasn’t been much more than average (69 TDs, 51 INTs) and his record has shown it (10–36 as a starter). The Jaguars’ other options of Chad Henne and Brandon Allen don’t exactly inspire confidence. Signing Kaepernick would provide some competition to Bortles and give Jacksonville some options for their receiving corps of Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marcedes Lewis, as well as potentially open up running lanes for rookie RB Leonard Fournette.
This pick is all about the system. With Cam Newton at the helm, Kaepernick would be asked to be a backup in Carolina. The run-first approach would utilize Colin’s running ability and with sure-handed options like Greg Olson and Travis Benjamin, along with first year RB Christian McCaffery, he would not be asked to do much in terms of driving the team forward. It would also give him the opportunity to lay low and out of the spotlight for enough time to pass and sign another contract down the line.
Information from ESPN was used in this write-up.