Colin Kaepernick's Best Chance at an NFL Return Just Took a Big Hit


After free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick reached a financial settlement in his collusion grievance against the NFL, the first question most people had was about how much money the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback got from the NFL.

There has been plenty of speculation but nothing concrete as both Kaepernick and the NFL have been silent regarding the settlement amount.

Depending on who you ask, Kaepernick sold out his causes for a hefty chunk of money or he “won” because the NFL paid him.

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Either way, the next question in the Kaepernick odyssey is whether the polarizing quarterback will return to the football field.

From all indications, it’s growing increasingly unlikely that Kaepernick will have a job with any of the NFL alternatives (XFL and AAF) based on his reported $20 million contractual demands.

Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, told CNN on Feb. 16 that he expects Kaepernick to land with an NFL team.

The two teams Geragos listed? The Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots.

Given that the Patriots are dealing with enough controversy without signing the guy who popularized the divisive national anthem protests, it seems increasingly unlikely that Kaepernick will be suiting up in Foxborough.

So that leaves the Panthers.

On paper, Carolina makes sense.

The Panthers already employ former 49ers safety Eric Reid, the first player to join Kaepernick in anthem protests in 2016 and the first Panthers player to ever kneel for the anthem. Kaepernick and Reid and vocal allies of each other.

Panthers star Cam Newton plays a particularly physical style at quarterback and seems to live on the injured report. It would behoove the Panthers to have a decent backup quarterback. Love him or hate him, the numbers do grade Kaepernick out as a worthwhile No. 2.

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Even schematically, Kaepernick could do a decent impersonation of Newton’s playstyle that blends running and throwing.

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Given all of that, Carolina would appear to be the likeliest destination for the still-unemployed Kaepernick.

Only, the Panthers just dealt a brutal blow to that narrative.

Coach Ron Rivera was asked at the combine about adding a quarterback to the roster via free agency, and his response shouldn’t evoke much confidence from Kaepernick’s camp.

“I think right now we’re very pleased with where we are in terms of our quarterback position. Very satisfied in what we got at the end of the year from both Taylor (Heinicke) and Kyle (Allen); I think both of those guys showed that ability,” Rivera told reporters at the combine conference.

That’s as damning a verdict on Kaepernick’s ability to play quarterback as you’ll see. Kaepernick, often incorrectly lauded by his supporters as some sort of NFL super-duper-star, isn’t enough of an upgrade over Heinicke and Allen to be worth the trouble. Those are two players even many Panthers fans would struggle to name.

Rivera further threw cold water on Kaepernick’s hopes by revealing what the Panthers would do if they did try to find a new quarterback.

“If we did do anything, it’s probably going to be in the draft,” he said. “We think developing a guy — as was asked earlier — is very important going forward.

“But we really do feel strong about the two guys that we have. I know (offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) has been pretty satisfied with what (we) got from those guys.”

That’s another small tidbit that Kaepernick fans seem to gloss over. Kaepernick is 31 and will turn 32 during this upcoming NFL season. Yes, the Patriots’ Tom Brady is playing quarterback at a relatively high level in his 40s, but Brady doesn’t depend on his athleticism the way Kaepernick does. If the Panthers were going to add another quarterback, it would make sense to try and find a long-term replacement for Newton through the draft.

The final nail in the coffin? Those Newton injuries, which necessitated a second surgery on his throwing shoulder in January, according to CBS Sports, might not be as dire as initially expected.

“As I said earlier, from what I’ve gotten from the reports, Cam’s progress has been very good,” Rivera said. “He’s been getting all of his workouts in, his rehab. Just knowing that, it gives you a little bit of confidence going forward.”

This is all to say that Kaepernick’s best hope of returning to the NFL just took a massive, and possibly even fatal, blow.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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