In the years since Colin Kaepernick’s discourse-dominating national anthem protests, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains a major popular figure. After becoming persona non grata to NFL ownership over his political advocacy in 2016, Kaepernick remained without work in the NFL through the 2018-19 season.
While the NFL certainly pays well, Kaep isn’t exactly starving. Among other ventures, he currently has a hugely successful Nike ad campaign under his belt.
Yet whenever he’s asked, he says a return to pro football is still at the forefront of his mind. Could 2019-20 be the season that Kaep finally finds himself a job despite years spent away from the gridiron?
The status of Colin Kaepernick’s legal dispute with the NFL
Colin Kaepernick and fellow ex-49er safety Eric Reid suspected they had been blackballed from the NFL and opted to sue team owners and the league for lost salary and damages. The case, filed back in 2017, hung heavily over the prospect of Kaepernick reasonably mounting a return to a league he was also engaged in active litigation with.
With the backing of the NFLPA, Kaepernick continued pursuing a spot in the NFL, despite the pending case. It wasn’t resolved until February 2019, when Kaepernick and Reid’s legal representation released a joint announcement saying that the case had been settled and the terms of said settlement would remain private.
While we don’t know exactly what Kaepernick and the NFL agreed to, the NFLPA voiced their support. Meanwhile, the QB in waiting has continued to signal intent to return to professional play.
Is he worth it to any teams?
Political issues aside, if one sticks to a purely athletic perspective is Colin Kaepernick worth it for any teams in the NFL?
Back when he was an active player, Kaep wasn’t exactly breathing the same rarefied air as an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady. His second string status has driven a lot of the major arguments against a return.
His stats tell a different story over his six years of professional play:
- Passed for 12,271 yards
- 72 touchdowns
- Allowed 30 interceptions
- Passer rating of 88.9
This adds up to a QB who should have his pick of jobs compared to many currently signed to active rosters. Aaron Rodgers himself thinks Kaepernick should be playing in the NFL today.
Compare Kaepernick with the Raiders’ Connor Cook, with a QB rating of 30 after a single appearance. Better yet, take note of C.J. Beathard, of Kaep’s former team the 49ers, with his 75.6 career QB rating.
Based on his track record, he clearly has what it takes to earn an NFL contract. Remember: this is a guy who threw 16 touchdowns with a 49ers squad who was clearly outmatched by the rest of the league at the time. So the question becomes, can he do that in 2019?
Colin Kaepernick’s physical condition in 2019
If Colin Kaepernick has no legal barrier to playing, and his skills as an NFL level QB — if not a top-tier all-time QB — are up to the task, there is one final issue to address: can Kaepernick hold up those standards in 2019?
Since his ouster from the NFL, Kaepernick’s work ethic has quietly remained. He hasn’t stopped his off-season practice routines and has long been happy to show the press how honed his skills continue to be.
For a potential 2019-20 QB run, Kaep’s putting in grueling hours working out with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Deshaun Watson. Clearly, he’s working hard to match the same routines that keep active NFL pros in fighting shape.
Colin Kaepernick is ready for the NFL. Is the NFL ready for him?