NFL Team Executives Question Kaepernick’s Chances as a Free Agent
Amid his refusal to stand for the national anthem, there have been speculations that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be released from the team.
The final round of roster cuts for the 49ers will be held on Saturday, meaning that the 28-year-old signal caller could be dropped—possibly for his refusal to stand during the anthem, which has drawn widespread scrutiny over the past week, or possibly for his play on the field—or both. Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert last year, and he’s had limited reps in practice and during the preseason.
Kaepernick told NFL.com that he sat during the national anthem as a way to protest. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he said.
A reporter for Yahoo Sports spoke to four executives at several NFL teams, who spoke anonymously, saying that there will be barriers in signing him.
“However you’re looking at it, [signing or trading for Kaepernick] is an endorsement of how the situation has been handled,” one executive told the website. “I have to explain to [my team owner] that a guy is going to [protest] the national anthem and draw attention to himself over the rest of the team. But I’ve got to say, ‘Here’s why we want to attach our franchise to this.’ … It’s not happening without him being OK with it.”
The four executives told Yahoo Sports that Kaepernick’s protest risks angering a respective team’s fan base—as well as the coaching staff and locker room. After Kaepernick sat during the national anthem, videos and photos uploaded to social media showed 49ers fans burning his jersey.
“There are 100 different people you have to think about [on a football team],” one executive told the site. “When one guy separates himself from that for whatever reason—if it’s a reason that brings a lot of controversy—you have to think of everyone. Not just one player. [And] you have to think of [the owner] first. It’s his team.”
But he won’t be unemployable, they said.
“Some people will agree with him and some won’t,” one told the site. “But if he can still play, he’ll have chances. It’s a big deal right now, but once the season starts, it will be about [football] again.”
However, his career might be in trouble, as another report suggests.
Bleacher Report spoke with seven league executives, who spoke anonymously. One executive from an unnamed team described Kaepernick as a “traitor.”
Another executive said he’s the most hated player since former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth, who was convicted of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in 1999.
“In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick,” a general manager told the website. The person claimed he’d resign from his post before hiring the quarterback.