Could Colin Kaepernick finally make his return to the NFL after four years out of the league?
It’s looking more and more likely that Kap, who is reportedly in the “best shape of his life, could join an NFL team after essentially being blackballed from the league for kneeling in protest during the national anthem in 2016.
Four years later, the tide has shifted in the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell even “encouraged” NFL teams to sign Kap. Now, a lot has happened in those four trips around the sun, but that would’ve been unfathomable to hear the commish say in 2016.
Unfortunately for Kap, the four years he missed were crucial in his development as an NFL quarterback. But we’ve seen what he can do on the field. So let’s just skip past all the BS that the Kap haters spew and accept that even though he hasn’t been in the NFL since 2016, Kap’s clearly one of the 100 best passers on the planet. If guys like Logan Woodside or Mike Glennon can be a backup in 2020, then there’s no doubt that Kap deserves a job.
But where are the best landing spots for the former 49ers quarterback? Here are the five teams that should sign Kaepernick before the NFL season kicks off.
All reports are that Ben Roethlisberger is well on his way to bouncing back from the elbow injury that ruined his 2019 campaign, but how much can the Steelers trust a 38-year-old passer who just had reconstructive elbow surgery?
The pair of reserve signal-callers struggled, to put it lightly, in their extended playing time last season. If the Steelers had even a league-average QB — which Kap could easily be — then Pittsburgh would have made the playoffs because of their suffocating defense.
Even if Big Ben is healthy, he rarely plays a 16-game season. Since entering the league in 2004, Roethlisberger has played a full campaign just four times. Kap would make a nice insurance policy and allow the team to ditch Duck and/or Rudolph.
That’s not to mention that the Rooney family, who own the Steelers, are known for their inclusivity. Heck, the Rooney Rule is named after former owner Dan Rooney. It would be just another example of the Rooney family making the league look better.
The Titans might make the most sense for a Kaepernick landing spot. The franchise just signed Ryan Tannehill — who started the 2019 campaign as a backup to Marcus Mariota — to a massive four-year, $118 million extension with $91 million guaranteed. While Tannehill played like a top-five quarterback with Tennessee, it’s no guarantee that he’ll carry over that same play.
The Titans — who had a lead on eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game — are squarely in win-now mode and if Tannehill either gets hurt or doesn’t live up to his contract, then their championship window will slam shut… unless they fix their backup quarterback situation by signing Kaepernick.
The Broncos missed out on signing Cam Newton, so clearly the next best acquisition would be Kaepernick.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. In 2016, Broncos general manager nearly traded for Kaepernick, but the two sides couldn’t agree to a restructured contract. Instead, the Broncos decided to move up to take Paxton Lynch with the No. 26 overall selection. How did that work out for Elway and Co.?
Lock started just five games last year, and although he showed glimpses of his talent, there’s no guarantee that he can lead the Broncos to the playoffs.
If Lock crashes and burns, the Broncos will then have to rely on Jeff Driskel, a former 49ers reserve.
Elway was interested in adding Kap before so it would make sense for him to want to bring him in. That’s assuming the Broncos general manager doesn’t hold any grudges against Kap for their contract impasse in 2016.
The Cardinals definitely don’t have a quarterback controversy in Arizona. Kyler Murray looks like the next superstar quarterback, and the Cards could be one of the most improved teams in the NFL in 2020.
Not to mention that Murray isn’t the biggest guy in the world. And even though he’s a master of maneuvering and avoiding big hits, Murray could be prone to getting hurt. And the Cardinals’ backup passer is none other than Brett Hundley, who is decidedly not good.
If something did happen to Murray, then the Cardinals would be in for another looong year, unless the team decided to add Kaepernick.
The Jaguars seem to be all-in on Gardner Minshew, the sixth-rounder out of Washington State. The exciting passer was arguably one of the better rookie QBs in the league last year, but he’s no sure thing — especially with a potential coaching change on the horizon in Florida.
The Jags, who could use a little boost in excitement, would be a great landing spot for Kap, who can serve as the team’s backup unless Minshew has a sophomore slump. And Kap would most likely put some butts in the seats in Jacksonville.
New Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has proven to be quite the helping hand in developing quarterbacks. It’d be a lot of fun to see what he could do with Kap under center.
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