As the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell carries tremendous influence. Yet, under his watch, not a single NFL team has given Colin Kaepernick another shot at playing quarterback on Sundays. Out of the league since 2016, the former San Francisco 49ers star has made a powerful impact as an activist. Still, many wonder why Kaepernick has never signed another NFL contract.
Ultimately, Goodell can’t force a team to put pen to paper. However, the commissioner did admit his true feelings about Kaepernick in a recent interview. But will his words be enough to convince an NFL team to take a leap of faith on the 32-year-old quarterback?
Colin Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016
Colin Kaepernick entered the NFL nearly a decade ago as a second-round pick by the 49ers. A dual-threat star at Nevada, his athleticism and powerful arm gave defensive coordinators nightmares.
After biding his time behind Alex Smith, Kaepernick took over for the underwhelming former No. 1 pick. Though he still needed to improve as a passer, his legs allowed him to make an immediate impact.
Kaepernick took over as the full-time starter in 2014. He responded with 3,197 passing yards, 524 rushing yards, and 25 total touchdowns. The 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers before losing a hard-fought matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship.
That represented the peak for Kaepernick. He put up solid numbers in 2014 before injuries limited him to just nine games in 2015. Of course, the 2016 season will be remembered as the one in which Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem. That form of peaceful protest against police brutality essentially cost him his NFL career.
After opting out of his contract at the conclusion of the season, he never played another NFL down. Meanwhile, quarterbacks with much thinner resumes and less physical talent have made millions as Kaepernick has devoted his time to activism efforts.
Roger Goodell admits his true feelings about Kaepernick
For Roger Goodell, the topic of Colin Kaepernick and his NFL comeback has come up on multiple occasions over the years. He has faced criticism for not supporting Kaepernick’s mission to raise awareness about racial inequality, social justice, and police brutality. In fact, Goodell finally apologized to Kaepernick during a conversation with former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho in August.
In a recent discussion with Mike Tirico and the NFLPA’s DeMaurice Smith, Goodell admitted his true feelings about the former 49ers quarterback and his NFL future.
When asked what he would say if an NFL owner called and asked for advice on signing Kaepernick, Goodell said, “They usually don’t ask me about who they’re gonna sign, but that conversation has happened many times and I’ve encouraged them to do so.”
He further added, “We had a tryout where 26 clubs came to watch him try out last year and so that was the kind of effort to sort of say, ‘Listen, if you want to continue your career, here’s the opportunity.'”
While Goodell said that owners, coaches, and general managers ultimately make personnel decisions, he sent a clear-cut message about his true feelings about Kaepernick.
“I’d love to see him play again.”
Will an NFL team follow the commissioner’s advice?
Roger Goodell may want to see Colin Kaepernick play in the NFL again, but that matters little. Ultimately, it will take one team to take a leap of faith on the 32-year-old quarterback.
Considering he has not played football in four years, Kaepernick’s ability to contribute on Sundays remains a complete mystery. Sure, he had a workout for teams that showed he still has solid arm strength and athleticism. But throwing against air does not compare to the challenges of facing the likes of Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt.
If Kaepernick has any shot of making an NFL comeback, he would do well to find a backup gig behind a similarly skilled quarterback. Given his dual-threat skill set, he would be a logical fit behind Russell Wilson in Seattle or Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. The Arizona Cardinals could also use a better No. 2 QB behind Kyler Murray.
Still, it seems like a longshot that a team will pull the trigger on Colin Kaepernick with the 2020 NFL season already underway.
Maybe things will change next year.
At least he finally has Roger Goodell on his side.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.