Beyond the Scoreboard: What’s Next for Colin Kaepernick?


Colin Kaepernick, pictured above, may never play in the NFL again. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Andrew Posadas

On Sep. 1, 2016, Colin Kaepernick made the decision to kneel for the national anthem during a home preseason game. Many NFL fans were confused, and would subsequently criticize Kaepernick for being “anti-American.”

Kaepernick himself made it abundantly clear what fueled his decision: he was not going to stand pridefully for a flag, that in his words, “oppresses black people and people of color.”

Ultimately, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following the end of the 2016-2017 NFL season. The former quarterback would not be signed again, prompting him to file a grievance against the league and its 32 teams on Oct. 15, 2017.

More than 16 months later, the public battle between Kaepernick and the NFL finally came to its conclusion.

Over the weekend, Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, shared massive news regarding the case. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, alongside ex-teammate Eric Reid, reached a settlement with the NFL in their grievance cases. What remains unknown are the specific terms of the settlement.

However, we do know both players and the league signed a confidentiality agreement. In effect, we may never know what substantial evidence Kaepernick’s lawyers obtained. By settling, the NFL is essentially conceding to the notion that it colluded in some capacity to keep the 31-year-old out of its league.

With his grievance case now settled, Kaepernick faces a new question: what’s next for him?

He hasn’t played a professional football game since Jan. 1, 2017. His detractors would argue a 3-16 record in Kaepernick’s last two seasons do not warrant a comeback. What these detractors will fail to mention is the dumpster fire that was the San Francisco 49ers in that period of time. The Niners went through two head coaches in two years. Both Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly were given the axe after one season, highlighting the ineptitude of the front office management to find stability for the head coaching position.

Even if Kaepernick has been idle for two years, there is absolutely no reason why NFL teams should not offer him, at the least, a workout to show what he has left. At 31 years of age, he is not necessarily considered “old” for his position. Take it from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

After winning his sixth Super Bowl earlier this month, the 41-year-old has repeatedly said his plan is to play until he’s 45. With the current rules favoring offense and emphasizing player safety, the longevity of a quarterback in the NFL should give Kaepernick optimism. There is ample time for him to prove he can play at a high level once again.

That being said, which NFL team would then make the move of signing Kaepernick? I imagine a majority of team owners want no part of the so-called “circus” that comes with signing him.

However, Mark Geragos went on CNN to speak on behalf of his client. During the interview, Geragos predicted three NFL teams are in play to sign Colin Kaepernick. He revealed two of the three teams: the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots.

The Patriots clearly have no problem with its quarterback position, as I mentioned Tom Brady earlier. That leaves us with Carolina: the perfect destination for Kaepernick to work for a roster spot.

The Panthers’ current starting quarterback, Cam Newton, is coming off recent surgery. While Carolina is hopeful he will be ready by the start of the 2019 season, anything may occur from now until then. I expect the Panthers to bring in multiple quarterbacks to camp this summer. Why shouldn’t Kaepernick be one of them?

Let us not forget: Kaepernick boasted a 29-16 record in his first two and a half years as a starter. He helped lead the 49ers to the NFC Championship game in back-to-back years (2012 and 2013). If Kaepernick’s 4th-quarter pass to Michael Crabtree in Super Bowl XLVII would had been complete, we would be addressing him as a Super Bowl champion.

The credentials are there, folks.

Carolina also makes ideal sense in that Kaepernick would be playing with Eric Reid, who recently signed a 3-year extension with the franchise. Panthers owner David Tepper signed Reid last season when no other team offered the former pro-bowler a contract. The prospect of playing alongside Reid once again and for an open-minded owner in Tepper makes it a perfect fit.

So to all 32 teams in the NFL: what is it going to be? Will you swallow your pride and invite Colin Kaepernick to a work-out? Or will you look the other way and sign someone like Nathan Peterman? The choice is yours.