It’s been five years and five months since Kaepernick played a football game—and that long since he’s even been in regular practice sessions. So the Raiders working him out shouldn’t be a sign that they plan to sign him and have him compete with current Raiders backup quarterbacks Nick Mullens and Jarrett Stidham to backstop Derek Carr. ESPN reported a signing wasn’t imminent.
Did you hear what Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said Thursday when asked about the Kaepernick workout? He said GM Dave Ziegler and his staff “have worked out tons of guys this spring.”
Let me tell you a story from my years covering the Giants in the eighties. Coach Bill Parcells, at games, used to carry in his back pocket what he called his “Ready List,” a list with two or three prime unsigned players at each position. That way, if the Giants had an injury during a game, Parcells could check the Ready List and direct pro scout Tim Rooney to get Player X to the Giants’ facility so he could be signed by the next day. Parcells was famous for working out players to see if they’d be a fit in a time of need, and continually update the list as the year went on.
When I heard McDaniels say the Raiders had worked out a ton of guys, I thought of the Ready List, and thought of the ton of guys McDaniels and Ziegler saw Bill Belichick direct the Patriots to work out when they worked under Belichick. That’s the way smart NFL people do business. In fact, I heard last week the Raiders have worked out two kickers this month, even though Las Vegas employs one of the best kickers in football, Daniel Carlson. Be ready for emergencies, always.
My guess is McDaniels and Ziegler have that Ready List, for sure, and the workout of Kaepernick was to see where he might fall on that list in case the Raiders get an injury at quarterback. Or in case another team gets a quarterback hurt and trades for Mullens, leaving the Raiders with a roster spot to be filled by a quarterback.
Regarding Kaepernick, it’s encouraging that he’s in great shape and still can throw bullets, per several reports from the workout. At the time of his end in football, he was a 59-percent passer over his last two seasons, so accuracy is likely still an issue—that plus the fact that he hasn’t played in five-and-a-half years. But I’d hope the fact that this once-electric player had a tryout in Las Vegas and the world did not melt in response to it might mean other teams would be willing to bring him in for a look.
As Kaepernick said this spring on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, much of his message that was so controversial six years ago is now written in end zones and on uniforms in the NFL: End Racism, among other slogans. The Black national anthem is played before some games. As for the kneeling during the anthem, some teams would likely take issue with that. But it’s interesting that there were no protests about in Las Vegas, no angry letters to the editor (as of Sunday, at least) of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Perhaps that will make teams more willing to bring in Kaepernick for workouts this season.
His age? Well, he’s 13 months older than Russell Wilson, who has said he plans/hopes to play at least 10 more years. The age, in this day, should not be much of a factor, especially when the average age of the last two Super Bowl-winning QBs and the last two MVP winners is 38.
Kaepernick has to be looking at the sands of hourglass on his career and thinking, If not now, when? This is an important year for his football future, if he is to have one. I have doubts his landing spot will be Vegas, but time will tell.