Colin Kaepernick is perhaps the most controversial and polarizing sports figure of the 21st century. His national anthem protest caused massive outrage and has been a continuous talking point in the mainstream media.
Kaepernick owned headlines for almost two years with many commentators and players debating whether he should get another shot as a starting quarterback.
Fox Sports One’s Colin Cowherd criticized Kaepernick for letting the story get out of hand and hiding behind a twitter account. Cowherd also stated he had no problem with Kaepernick’s protest but remained heavily critical of the former quarterback.
However, not everyone has been critical of Kaepernick and some teams have shown interest in the former 49er.
The Denver Broncos were close to trading for Kaepernick in 2016 but the two could not agree on a pay cut, according to John Elway, the team’s general manager. “I said this a while ago: Colin had his chance to be here,” Elway said. “We offered him a contract. He didn’t take it.”
The Baltimore Ravens also reached out in 2017.
In an interview with Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” Ray Lewis explained Kaepernick was a day or two away from being signed by the Ravens.
Lewis had been advocating for Kaepernick to the Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti and the two were ready to offer the quarterback a contract. Before Bisciotti offered the deal to Kaepernick, he wanted Kaepernick to state publicly he wanted to play football, which Kaepernick never did. Lewis stated that had Kaepernick complied with Bisciotti’s request, he would have a job.
Lewis also referenced a tweet sent out by Kaepernick’s girlfriend and radio host, Nessa Diab, that was directed towards Lewis and Bisciotti with the caption “Django.” The post compared the two to a slave-and-master type of relationship.
Since the Ravens, no other teams have reached out to the free-agent and a collusion lawsuit against NFL owners presumably put the nail in the coffin to Kaepernick’s career.
The last time fans saw Kaepernick on the field was 2016, when he started 11 games for the 49ers. In those 11 games, Kaepernick had one win and ten losses. Even with a subpar record, Kaepernick’s 2016 stats were on par with his career averages. The problem is that Kaepernick is held to the standard of his career highlights.
The 2012-2014 seasons were the pinnacle years in Kaepernick’s career. He led the Niners to a a record of 25 wins and 14 losses, including two playoff appearances and one Super Bowl loss.
Kaepernick was a dominating force and arguably the best dual-threat quarterback, a quarterback who possesses the skills and physique to run with the ball if necessary in the NFL. Kaepernick averaged a 60.4 completion percentage, 3,319 total scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns.
In the subsequent years, Kaepernick only started 19 games. His record in those games was three wins and 16 losses.
2015 was Kaepernick’s worst season by far. He completed 59 percent of his passes for a total of 1,871 yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns in nine games. Kaepernick was not his usual self and it carried over into 2016.
In his final season in the NFL, Kaepernick started 11 games throwing for 2,241 yards and running for 468. He totaled 18 touchdowns utilizing his dual threat archetype. Kaepernick finished his final season with with a 90.7 quarterback rating, according to profootballreference.com, the third highest of his career. These ratings measure how the quarterback impacts the game on passes, rushes, turnovers and penalties.
Kaepernick soon opted-out of a guaranteed job and hit the open market for the first time in his career. His phone was quiet and for months speculation circulated of where the quarterback would land. He never got the call, but a new video surfaced via ESPN of Kaepernick working out which caught the media’s eye.
The video, posted eight months, ago seemed to be a sign Kaepernick was ready for an NFL return. However, it’s now half way through the 2018 NFL season and he is still unemployed.
While Kaepernick sits, recent quarterback play in the league has reignited the “Kaep is better” narrative.
Nathan Peterman played in eight games as a member of the Buffalo Bills from 2017-2018. Peterman quickly became a laughing stock after his first career start, in which he threw five picks in the first half. Colin Kaepernick never threw more than five interceptions in a game and never threw more than eight interceptions in a season.
Peterman may be the extreme example of a terrible quarterback, but what about another quarterback with a history of winning?
Blake Bortles and Colin Kaepernick have played an almost identical amount of games. Both have led their teams to deep playoff runs and have come out losers on final drives in the playoffs.
The difference between the two is current NFL players back Kaepernick and have been vocal about his return. Bortles has little support from his own team.
After a week seven loss, loquacious defensive back Jalen Ramsey hinted at distrust with Bortles.
“You all walk in here, you all see how it is in here, you all see how we vibe with each other, you all see how we vibe towards the coaches, you all see how it is,” Ramsey said. “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now.”
Ramsey was not the only player to call out Bortles, Eagles’ all-pro safety Malcolm Jenkins stated his disdain for Bortles in an interview with USA Today.
Jenkins told reporters at his locker, “Colin Kaepernick deserves a job. I can turn on the tape this week of our opponent and see that Colin Kaepernick deserves a job.”
Fans have been clamoring for Kaepernick to take Bortles’ job for years and the stats are on Kaepernick’s side.
In 35 of the 73 games, Bortles has finished with an equal or higher number of interceptions compared to touchdowns. The Jaguars’ quarterback is a detriment to the team with his inane ability to give up points. Bortles has thrown 13 regular season pick sixes—a total of 78 points handed to opposing teams.
Colin Kaepernick may not be able to start on the majority of teams, but statistically he outranks the bulk of NFL backup quarterbacks.
Stats prove Kaepernick should be in the NFL. However, is the former 49ers’ asking price is too high?
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Kaepernick’s desired salary was between $9 million and $10 million, with an opportunity to start. Starting in the NFL might be hard for a quarterback who sat out the last two seasons, but a $9 million contract is reasonable.
If Kaepernick was signed, his $9 million would rank 24th in annual quarterback salary. The only other backup quarterbacks above him would be Josh McCown and Tyrod Taylor.
Twelve starting quarterbacks would make less than Kaepernick, including Patrick Mahomes—this season’s MVP favorite.
If Kaepernick was to lower his asking price to $6 million, a team may be willing to take a chance on the current free agent. His contract would rank among the league’s average and be closer to the majority of current NFL starters.
Stats and public opinion prove that Kaepernick definitely deserves a second chance on the field.
In the words of the now Nike spokesperson, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”