It appears NFL outfits are steering clear of Colin Kaepernick. It's been over two weeks since the football quarterback has been a free agent and he's still on the market. But is this a fair assessment? After all, there are hundreds of other players who find themselves on the free transfer market.
But unlike other players, Kaepernick is viewed through the skeptical lens of "KneelGate," and the activism of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has drawn the ire of a significant chunk of U.S. patriots and an even larger portion of NFL fans. Kaepernick went from winning the 49ers’ Len Eshmont award — given to a 49er who “best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont” — to being arguably the “most hated player in the league.”
From Hero to Zero
The 29-year-old — who played in the Superbowl just four years ago — angered many when he opted to kneel during the national anthem in protest against the high-profile instances of police brutality involving African Americans. Many of his “haters” agree that Kaepernick should be granted the right to protest any cause he chooses. But they also claim he has chosen the wrong platform and has disrespected the national anthem — which represents the freedom he enjoys.
Kaepernick extended the unease when he referred to U.S. President Donald Trump as being “openly racist.” The president in response suggested that he finds another country to call home.
Is He Worth the Risk?
NFL teams are typically willing to weather controversy of any kind if the player involved can contribute at an above-average level.
Over the last three seasons, Kaepernick has completed just 59.7 percent of his passes at 6.9 yards, and he has an 85.9 passer rating, a figure that is below the league average for the same period. He also adds 1,363 rushing yards, which is the total number of yards as a result of the player carrying the ball, and four touchdowns over the same period, but his ability to run is not sufficient to up his stock.
An American Football Conference general manager told the Bleacher Report that there are three reasons “Kap” is still available.
First: “some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.
Second: “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or (President Donald) Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.
And third: “the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did (kneeling for the national anthem). They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”
Bleacher also reported that another NFL official referred to Kaepernick as "an embarrassment to football." To further cement the sentiment, an executive last year called Kaepernick a “traitor” and said he was the most disliked player since Rae Carruth — who murdered somebody.
“I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did,” an unnamed GM added.