Colin Kaepernick’s training shows he’s serious about his comeback


Colin Kaepernick's training shows he's serious about his comeback

Only the Las Vegas Raiders know if Colin Kaepernick is still good enough to play quarterback in the NFL.

Kaepernick tried it out for the Raiders on Wednesday. It was his first real attempt in years. He hasn’t appeared in a game since the 2016 season, when he started 11 games for a San Francisco team with two wins.

He was circumcised in early 2017 and hasn’t garnered much interest since, at least in part because of his decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem that season.

Is he still capable at 34? The Raiders say nothing.

“We’re only going to talk about the people who are on our team,” said coach Josh McDaniels, echoing an old New England Patriots policy, where McDaniels has twice served as Bill Belichick’s right-hand man. “…We really don’t comment on the ratings that we made, or what they looked like, what they didn’t look like, strengths and weaknesses, things like that.”

It makes sense. Why leave a review for a player who is currently free to sign elsewhere?

That doesn’t mean Kaepernick didn’t answer a few questions on Wednesday, some nagging and others perhaps vital to his quest to get back playing football.

The first is that he really wants to return to the NFL. Fair or not, some in the league were left with the impression that Kaepernick was content with his life after football and while he often said he still wanted to play, his motivation was not complete.

NFL teams had expressed little interest in even trying him, at least in part because of his political activism.

Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been an effective quarterback in his last few NFL seasons, so there’s still a lot of skepticism about his abilities. But his wish should no longer be questioned. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Kaepernick’s final days in San Francisco were a far cry from his peak in 2012 and 2013, when he led the 49ers to the playoffs. Never a great passer, his game relied on his running ability. As that began to fade, so did his entire game. In his last two seasons, he failed to complete 60 percent of his passing and had to undergo a series of surgeries.

With the annual parade of mediocre quarterbacks playing every week and even starting late in the season due to injuries, there was little doubt his league elimination wasn’t purely based on performance.

Still, Kaepernick couldn’t convince anyone to give him a chance, and the concept that he “didn’t really want to play” became an easy escape for NFL teams.

This was particularly pronounced on November 12, 2019, when the NFL set up a practice session for him in front of any teams that wanted to send a representative.

Kaepernick withdrew from the Atlanta session just 30 minutes earlier, expressing concern that it was closed to the public and a waiver the NFL wanted him to sign. Then he moved it to another part of town, with his own camera crew in tow.

Even if Kaepernick’s concerns were justified, the employer has the cards in his hand when looking for a job. As long as nothing illegal is asked, they are usually left to do as they please. If they want you to wear a suit, you put on a suit. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you have enough talent. Kaepernick no more.

The test run was a disaster. Kaepernick looked good throwing the ball but nobody signed him. It was seen by some in the league as just a shady publicity stunt by a guy who seemed difficult to work with. Who knows if that’s true, but that’s how the NFL took it.

Well, maybe he really wants to play. Maybe he always has. Or maybe things have changed. Whatever it was, training with the Raiders was typical of how the system works. That alone should cause a stir in the NFL. Or at least make an excuse to ignore him from the table.

Kaepernick also seems quite willing to be a backup. Sure he would like to start. But that’s what every player should want. His willingness to try out for Las Vegas suggests he’s not waiting for a guaranteed job.

Derek Carr is the established starter in Vegas. The three-time Pro Bowler hasn’t missed a game since 2017 and led the Raiders to the playoffs a season ago. In April, he signed a three-year extension worth up to $121.5 million.

Kaepernick knew all this. He knew the Raiders were interested in him as a replacement, barring a training camp that almost miraculously won a job (if he even signs).

He tried it anyway.

If nothing else, maybe another quarterback-poor team will see him in a new light. Or maybe someone decides to take a second look at a guy who might still add a bit of talent to the list.

Maybe Vegas will sign him. Or maybe he’ll get another trial somewhere else.

All of this is a long way from Kaepernick ever returning to the NFL, but no matter what happened during the tryout, Wednesday was still a potentially significant day for the quarterback.

You May Also Like