By Caleb Curtis
Colin Kaepernick has been a very controversial figure over this last year. It all started when he refused to stand for the national anthem during all of the 49ers preseason and season games in 2016. When asked about it, he said that he could not stand and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Many NFL fans were outraged by this, including myself. I’ve been a huge Kaepernick fan ever since he joined the league in 2011, but I had a hard time supporting his decision. Now the 2017 season is just around the corner, and Kaepernick remains unsigned; which brings up the big question. Is he being blackballed by NFL owners? or is he just bad?
Kaepernick is an incredible athlete. He proved that in 2012 when he made a playoff run with the 49ers that ended with a loss in the Super Bowl. However, the Kaepernick of recent years has only been a shadow of his early seasons. The loss of Jim Harbaugh as the head coach of the 49ers proved that Kaepernick only fit in certain offenses in the NFL. Kaep was forced to try and be a pocket-passing quarterback in the 2015 season and only produced 6 passing touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Those poor numbers lead to Kaepernick not even starting for the 49ers in 2016 until week 6. When he did finally start again, he put up decent numbers, as he threw for 1,413 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first six games.
Kaepernick’s seventh start of the season, however, may have done him in for some time to come. Kaepernick went 1-5 with 4 passing yards and was sacked 5 times against the Chicago Bears. It’s the only time in NFL history that a quarterback has been sacked more times than a number of passing yards he had thrown for. Quarterbacks can’t have numbers like that and expect to stay on a team. He finished his 2016 campaign with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions, which is rather decent numbers. Kaepernick ended up opting out of his contract to see how he would do in free agency.
As we can tell now, Kaepernick probably should have just stayed in San Francisco. The Baltimore Ravens were on the verge of signing him after Joe Flacco went down with a back injury, and it didn’t appear that Ryan Mallett would get the job done. That’s when Raven’s season-ticket holders threatened to burn their tickets and boycott the organization if they signed Kaepernick. The Ravens opted to instead sign David Olson and Josh Woodrum. David Olson finished his college career with -1 passing yard on one completion in three passing attempts. The Ravens are Woodrum’s fifth destination since he joined the NFL in May of 2016, and he hadn’t even thrown a pass in a preseason game until this year.
The whole dispute with why Kaepernick is still unsigned has now come down to two separate arguments. “Kaepernick isn’t good enough for the NFL,” and “The NFL is blackballing Kaepernick.” Well, the correct answer is both. If Kaepernick had put up incredible numbers and taken a knee during the anthem, he would have been signed by now. If Kaepernick had put up the numbers he did last year and not taken a knee, he would have been signed by now. The combination of okay numbers and a lot of controversy over kneeling for the national anthem means for unhappy fans, angered teammates, and furious general managers and owners.
When it comes down to it, Colin Kaepernick just isn’t worth the risk. NFL teams will not wager their fan base, money, or time for such an iffy player. Kaepernick may be forced to go play in the Canadian Football League, retire, or just remain a free agent until a team feels he is worth that risk. The wait for Kaepernick to join an NFL team may last until he drops his desired salary to a number far below what he is worth. One thing is for sure: Whoever takes a chance on Kaepernick is going to have to have a lot of faith in their new quarterback.