Over the past few weeks, there has been plenty debate over whether Colin Kaepernick deserves a second chance in the NFL. There is the side that thinks he’s far too talented to be unemployed and the NFL is blackballing him out of a career due to his political protests. Then there’s the other side who thinks that has nothing to do with it, he’s just not that good. In reality, it’s a combination of the two.
Now that a few quarterbacks have popped up on the injury list, Kaepernick’s name has been speculated on being connected to teams like the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and even Baltimore Ravens. So far, no team has signed the former 49er causing much speculation across social media. There’s even a petition floating around stating if Kaepernick doesn’t end up on an NFL roster, a group of 20,000 fans and counting would boycott the NFL. Ironically, that was the excuse people used for the ratings dip, fans didn’t want to see a political protest during sporting events.
In reality, his political stances are secondary to the real reason he’s unemployed. His skill set just doesn’t fit what NFL teams are in need of right now. Talent trumps the sideshow and Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have the talent teams are looking for to run an offense. Truth be told, is anyone running Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills out of the league after he took a knee last year? No, he was rewarded after one of the best seasons of his young career with a multi-year contract. It’s not about race, it’s not about political agenda, it’s about talent. Colin Kaepernick is talented but he doesn’t fit what teams need.
People can point to the fact he took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl and at face value that is very impressive and a commendable feat. However, you have to look closely at how he got there. San Fran punched their Super Bowl ticket running the Read Option, a college level offense. Much like the Wildcat that won the Miami Dolphins their divisional championship back in 2008, it’s an offense that didn’t last long. In both instances, these offenses surprised a lot of teams in the NFL, then quickly faded away once teams learned how to defend them. They work well at the college level as young players learn to adjust to what’s being shown by different schemes. At the professional level, players react much quicker and sniff out gimmicky offenses at lightening speed.
Take a look at the list of quarterbacks who ran the Read Option. There’s Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson. Others may have run it, but those four leaned on it to start their NFL career. Only two of them are still playing. Cam Newton is still in Carolina but bounces back and forth between great seasons to losing seasons. Russel Wilson has had to elevate his game because injuries and both he and Cam have evolved as quarterbacks as a result of switching their style. Both Wilson and Newton still run those style plays from time to time and if either of them needed a backup, maybe Kaepernick would get a call.
When it comes to Kaepernick and RGIII, two players who had success in their first couple years and fell off. Not because they didn’t have the talent to play in the NFL, but because they never developed into a more traditional quarterback. The NFL is a what have you done for me lately league and neither has developed into quarterbacks who can do what it takes to succeed. Teams aren’t going to pay quarterbacks who excelled at running an obsolete offense. The Read Option can work from time to time but it can’t be run every play anymore. What coach in the NFL wants to take a step back by adjusting their entire offense around a quarterback’s skill set that doesn’t fit the mold of today’s NFL. The Dolphins, Ravens, and Colts all run a more up-tempo, pocket-friendly, traditional offense. None of those fit Kaepernick or RGIII’s skill sets.
While it is disappointing to see a talent no longer playing in the NFL it is a business. There isn’t a player who hung it up early that doesn’t deserve a second chance. However, Kaepernick just doesn’t fit into current needs of any team in the NFL. You can have your pitchforks ready thinking it’s political, but when you step back and look at the bigger picture it has little to do with it. Plenty of players from the past have given the NFL a black eye and continued playing. Not signing Colin Kaepernick isn’t because of political agenda, he just doesn’t fit into an offense of teams in need, nothing more, nothing less.