By: Ryan Smithers
After a nearly two-year fight with the NFL, Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league and its team owners has finally come to an end. On February 15th, Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid agreed to a settlement with the NFL.
The settlement ultimately worked for both sides. The NFL paid to keep the league’s “inner workings” under wraps, avoiding any potential admission of guilt for a price they can live with. League insiders quickly reported that Kaepernick’s payment was between $60 million and $80 million, though it stays undisclosed within agreement lines.
The deal didn’t only reinstate the names of Reid and Kaepernick in the system, it moved them an inch closer to justice. Though the case was neither proven nor disproven, a sense of validation was implemented. The accusation that the league was working against them to prevent their employment due to their political views that were expressed in the national anthem holds truer than ever.
Now that the long-lasting battle between Colin Kaepernick and the NFL has been settled, he will be able to move on to the next chapter of his life. Half of America may be against him, but he’ll have his chance to turn the tides on the field. It’s only a matter of when and who. So what’s next, Kaep?
Though the former 49ers quarterback is no longer entangled in any legal battles, the likelihood of him being signed in 2019 is very low. Hypothetically, it only makes it easier for teams to justify the signing. According to Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, he “absolutely wants to play” and has already received interest from three teams—including the Patriots and Panthers. Yet, it’s difficult to see him going anywhere anytime soon.
Kaepernick was a dynamic and reliable starting quarterback for the 49ers when drafted in 2011. In just his sophomore season, Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl, matching up against the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the loss, Kaepernick displayed his capabilities on the field, but by 2016, the team took a turn for the worst. Kaepernick shared snaps with Blaine Gabbert and went 1-10 as a result of a 2-14 season for the 49ers. The quarterback surprisingly held strong during the rebuild posting a 16:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 90.7 passer rating, which was strong enough to rank 17th in the league.
Kaepernick’s last snap was on New Year’s Day in 2017, and since then, quarterbacks such as Nathan Peterman, Trevor Siemian, and Blaine Gabbert have all had opportunities to become a starter over Kaepernick. He’ll have nowhere near the same competition he had then. From a player comparison standpoint, he’s going into one of the most competitive QB markets in years. The quarterback free agency market includes Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Tyrod Taylor. All are already more likely to get a deal over Kaepernick. Several QB draft prospects, such as Heisman winner Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, are projected to pick up a spot on teams who are desperate for a passer.
Deep in the dark depths of the league is where things could get interesting. There’s much speculation on whether quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Eli Manning, and Ryan Tannehill will get released this offseason. Could one of these teams welcome Kaepernick on a short-term deal? Chances are slim, but it’s just a thought.
Whether it’s this year or three years from now, I’m confident that Colin Kaepernick will get another chance in the NFL. From where the position stands now, he’d be better than almost half of the starting quarterbacks in the league and would top off any team that wants a deep QB room. Though if we’re being realistic, his decision to kneel during the anthem in 2016 is still going to aggravate his chances today. The collusion case may be over and done with, but the opinions of most team owners won’t change. The million opinions of Americans won’t change. So whichever team takes a shot at Kaepernick is going to be followed with some heavy heat. I’m sure Kaepernick has no problem with that.