Could Colin Kaepernick play again this season?
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
The league announced on Tuesday that they'll be holding a private work-out session for free agent Colin Kaepernick in Atlanta this Saturday (16 November).
A memo went out to all 32 NFL teams inviting them to attend the on-the-field workout and interview the former San Francisco 49er.
Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract in 2016, after controversy surrounding protests against police brutality, hasn’t played an NFL game in three years.
The former 49ers quarterback did meet with Seattle in 2017 but didn’t work-out with the team, who claimed they were doing their due-diligence as part of a wider search for a veteran backup.
The 32 year-old has 72 touchdowns, 13 rushing touchdowns, a Super Bowl start and claims he is ready to play again.
Will he play this season?
The short answer is no. While Kaepernick claims to be ready and healthy it is unlikely he will start this season, that is with a successful work-out on Saturday.
That isn’t a knock against his experiences, or his readiness to play, but more the time it would take to integrate a new quarterback into a team so late in the season.
We’re already on Week 11, even if a team loves what they see on Saturday, they will still want to bring Kaepernick in for work-outs and meetings at their own facility, adding another week or two at the very least.
If they really love what they see and sign him, it’s onto learning the playbook, getting acquainted with the offensive line and generally becoming match ready for an NFL start after three years with no games.
There is no doubt that Kaepernick has what it takes to rejoin the NFL. Many fans may be looking at the recent signing of Matt Moore for Kansas City as an example of how quickly these situations can go, but that doesn’t mean Kaepernick will have an easy or quick journey back into the league.
Which brings us onto the next hurdle for Kaepernick to overcome: The need for speed.
The reason we have to look at Matt Moore and Colin Kaepernick differently is the need for urgency in the situation with Kansas City.
First you have to take a look at all 32 NFL teams and see who needs a quarterback this late in the season.
Currently, there are a few teams who will be in dire need of a replacement, for example: the Dolphins, Bengals, Bears, Chargers, Jaguars and Buccaneers.
It’s common knowledge that the Dolphins and Bengals will wait and use their 1st round picks to go for college prospects like LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.
Teams are almost spoilt with college talent this year and with many scouts highlighting players for the 2021 draft already, the NFL will have a wealth of young talent coming in via the next two drafts.
This, simply put, means there are a number of cheaper, younger options available to teams who want to rebuild, not renew.
The Bears and Chargers are unlikely to go for a college draft, instead favouring a more mature and experienced quarterback to complement their older team.
This opens the door for Kaepernick, surely?
While that may be the case, there are two currently active NFL quarterbacks who will be in need of a team come 2020; Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater.
Cam has stated he is now happy to be traded and with the return of Drew Brees to the Saints, Teddy Bridgewater won’t want to stick around for long after successfully taking his place during his injury period.
When will he play again?
The most likely guess at when Kaepernick could play again would be 2020, if Kaepernick impresses on Saturday, it's likely a team would be keen to sign him as a backup.
With several ageing quarterbacks, those teams will want someone with a few years left in the tank and the skills and experience to jump in at a moments notice.
Expect many teams to sign younger college prospects in the 2020 draft as part of their rebuilding strategy. The teams you need to keep an eye on for a potential Kaepernick signing are those looking to renew.
Teams with experienced offensive lines, with either ageing, injured or subpar quarterbacks will be looking closely on Saturday.
So, good luck Kaepernick!