Colin Kaepernick is getting jobbed by the NFL, plain and simple.
If what the owners and the league have done to his football career isn’t collusion, then the definition needs to be re-written.
Whether or not one loves or hates Kaepernick’s politics, the truth is that he is still a better quarterback option than nearly half those currently no. 1 under center in the league.
It really is galling that an owner, with a team in the toilet — hello Cleveland! — hasn’t had the cojones enough to flip the bird to his confreres and offer Kaepernick a short-term deal to at least give his team a chance at winning.
The NFL has only a handful of premier quarterbacks, which makes the fact that Kaepernick isn’t even a solid no. 2 option somewhere even more ridiculous, in our estimation.
Kaepernick’s career stat line shows, 69 games played in six seasons, 12,271 yards passing, 2,300 yards rushing, 72 TD passes, 30 interceptions and an overall rating of 88.9.
Here are 15 teams we believe he could start for right now, or at least be a solid second-stringer with — and no, we’re not counting the Niners, they had their chance and blew it.
15. Cleveland Browns
DeShone Kizer is out, and, realistically should have been a second string pivot this season. Which means little used Kevin Hogan is the 0-9 Browns starter right now, with fellow second-year man Cody Kessler as back-up. Nothing really against Hogan and Kessler, but they are greenhorns who shouldn’t be tasked with erasing the massive stain of a horrid start away. Together, the two-headed monster of Hogan/Kessler has played six games, thrown 97 passes, completed 57 for 643 yards, four TDs and six INTs. Neither could be considered as good a runner as Kaepernick either, with Hogan running for 71 yards on 10 attempts and Kessler -1 yard on one attempt. Owner Jimmy Haslam and the football executive haven’t been shy in the last little while about throwing things at the wall to see if they stick, why stop now by not putting C.K. on speed dial?
14. Baltimore Ravens
We do like Joe Flacco around here, but the regression we’ve seen this season doesn’t look good. The Ravens are floundering under .500 and the 10-year veteran won’t come close to matching his production from a bounce-back year in 2016. He’s thrown for just 1,551 yards this season, along with eight touchdowns. But, he’s been picked off 10 times (tying him for third worst) and has a tepid passer rating of just 72.7. He’s not very mobile with all of 13 yards rushing on eight attempts and from the looks of things when he is in the pocket, there seems to be a lot of checking down versus getting balls deep downfield. In terms of Flacco’s back-up, Ryan Mallett, well he couldn’t carry Kaepernick’s jockstrap.
13. Denver Broncos
The fact that Brock Osweiler still has a NFL job and Kaepernick doesn’t is all the evidence for collusion among the owners that we need. The QB carousel in Denver continues unabated as the very mediocre Osweiler — in his second go around in the Mile High City — got a second straight start in place of Trevor Siemian last Sunday. He was 18 of 33 for 221 yards, one TD and one INT. Ho hum. Now Osweiler is nursing a chest injury and the word out of Denver says the as yet untested Paxton Lynch has been taking second string, and some first string, reps in practice. The way Trevor Siemian has played (1,669 yards passing, 9 TD, 10 INT), we won’t be surprised if Lynch replaces him Sunday against Cincinnati. All in all, the pivot situation in Denver has taken a formerly great team and turned it horribly mediocre.
12. Chicago Bears
The Mitch Trubisky as no. 1 quarterback experiment in Chicago should be over. After taking over for the turnover prone Mike Glennon, the rookie QB has had his arm stifled by a run heavy Bears attack and his numbers are dismal. He would be better suited, right now, to being an understudy under a true no. 1, like say, Colin Kaepernick. The Bears are 3-6 and have scored the fourth fewest points in football — so how’s that run first offence working now, John Fox? Collectively, Glennon and Trubisky have combined to complete 152 of 255 passes for 1,639 yards and seven TDs (against seven INTs). They’ve also been sacked 24 times, which Trubisky getting dropped 16 times in just five games. Ouch.
11. Buffalo Bills
Nathan Peterman is getting the start for a reeling Buffalo Bills team this Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers. The Bills, who were sitting pretty at 5-2 not that long ago, have lost two in a row, including a complete dismantling by New Orleans last Sunday. Tyrod Taylor, who was good most of the season, was awful and got yanked early in favor of the rookie Peterman. What we see happening, though, is another loss that will push the Bills further from the playoff conversation. Peterman has thrown exactly 10 NFL passes and while he did complete seven for 79 yards and a TD, it was in what we like to call “garbage time” in a blowout loss. The Bills sure could use a more seasoned back-up to take over no. 1 snaps, not a fifth-round rookie, to get them back into contention.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
For two years running now, the formerly playoff bound Bengals have been terribly mediocre. After a 6-9-1 finish last year, the Bengals are 3-6 and have scored fewer points than the deplorable 1-8 Giants (149 to 150). Andy Dalton is still no. 1, but for how long? He’s been on a three-year slide that has seen his passer rating go from 106.3 in 2015 (his best and the last year Cincy made the playoffs) to 91.8 last year and now 88.2. He’s already matched his interception total of eight that he had in 2016, which is one more than he threw in all of 2015. He’s not overly mobile any more and has been sacked 25 times, tying him with Trevor Siemian for fifth overall in that category. It’s high time the Tabbies mixed things up a little, if they hope to get back to being a playoff team.
9. New York Jets
Over the course of his 15-year NFL career, Josh McCown has not really been anyone’s choice for first string quarterback. Not that he’s been a bad back-up, but that’s all he really is. He was handed the job for a Jets team going nowhere this season and has been un-spectacularly OK. Of all the QBs Kaepernick could replace, McCown’s name is right up there. He’s now 38 and showing his age. Sure, McCown has completed 216 of 313 passes in 10 games for 2,242 yards and 14 TDs (eight INTs, though), but he has been sacked 32 times (second most in the NFL) an has fumbled the ball on five other occasions. The Jets will again be another also-ran this season and quite content to have a second-rate QB at the helm. Good thing they have the fourth lowest average ticket price in the league.
8. Indianapolis Colts
When Andrew Luck became unavailable earlier this season, the Colts should already have had Kaepernick on speed dial. Luck most likely won’t take any snaps in anger this season as he rehabs from shoulder surgery and it is fortuitous that his replacement, Jacoby Brissett, isn’t on the DL now too. He is in concussion protocol this week after getting clobbered in a 20-17 loss to Pittsburgh. Brissett, the second year former New England back-up, has been sacked an NFL worst 35 times already this season and if he’s a no-go for the 3-7 Colts, the very below average Scott Tolzien draws in. Why wouldn’t the Colts have considered giving Kaepernick a one-year deal, given that Brissett had all of three games experience and Tolzien just 10 in six seasons? Ludicrous, the QB situation in Indy.
7. Miami Dolphins
AFC East teams, other than New England, sure are content with mediocre when it comes to the quarterback position. How else to explain why the Dolphins gave the washed-up and retired turnover machine that his Jay Cutler a one-year, $10 million contact to replace injured Ryan Tannehill? It’s been a gong show back there for Miami this season, other than two starts where Cutler earned that big fat contract. It’s shameful, really, that the Fish foisted Cutler on the paying masses, when they probably could have had Kaepernick, a better and younger quarterback, for the same money and term. Or, they could have signed him to a multi-year deal and got rid of Matt Moore too. The Dolphins are the lowest scoring team in football right now and there’s ample evidence why.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who can solidify a hold on first place in the AFC South with a win over hapless Cleveland this weekend, are winning despite Blake Bortles, not because of him. The Jags are 6-3 and like to win each of their next three against so-so competition because the offence has learned to succeed in other ways. So far, Bortles slash line is nothing to crow about. He has the 44th best completion rate at 58.6 and has thrown 11 TD passes against seven interceptions. Save for that four-touchdown, zero INT performance in a 44-7 win over Baltimore early, Bortles has been extremely ho-hum. To illustrate how the team is succeeding when he has been mostly mediocre, they beat the Chargers 20-17 in OT when he completed just 28 of 51 attempts for one TD, but was picked off twice, too. We get a nagging feeling, too, that he isn’t going to be any better when the team will need him to be.
5. Green Bay Packers
With the Packers at 4-2 and still in playoff contention before Aaron Rodgers suffered a potential season-ending injury on Oct. 15, how hard would it have been to give Colin Kaepernick a call? The Packers did their fans a real disservice by not at least trying to salvage a playoff position in the NFC North, in our humble opinion. They cheaped out by going with unproven third-year QB Brett Hundley, who also may be on the sidelines for the now 5-4 Packers this weekend after suffering a hamstring injury in a win over Chicago last Sunday. Which means that untested and small college QB Joe Callahan might be the starter when the still not-yet-out-of-it Pack entertain Baltimore in a winnable game this Sunday.
4. Houston Texans
They really are scraping the bottom of the quarterback barrel now in Houston. The team didn’t go wrong earlier this year by shipping the expensive and under-performing Brock Osweiler to Cleveland and then anointing draft pick Deshaun Watson as starter. But, like many other starters, Watson is done for the season after tearing his ACL. That thrusts little used and below average pivot Tom Savage into the fray as no. 1. In four games this season (two starts) he has already fumbled the ball six times and thrown two interceptions against two TDs. If Savage goes down, the new second stringer is T.J. Yates, who has two more career interceptions (8), than TDs (6). Add to the mix the signing of Josh Johnson, who hasn’t thrown a regular season pass in six years. Of course, the Texans, after getting rid of Osweiler’s fat contract, could have given Kaepernick a call and alleviated all this unpleasantness.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Since having a standout season in 2013 when the Chargers will still in San Diego, there has been a noted drop in performance by 14-year veteran Philip Rivers. He’s been one of the least sacked QBs in the league this year, but his consecutive games streak of 185 might be in jeopardy due to concussion symptoms. In four seasons, Rivers passer rating has slipped every year from a high of 105.5 in 2013 to 87.8 this year. His TD to INT ratio has also narrowed appreciably and his QB Rating down 34 points from 75.3 to 43.1. He’s still one of the better pivots — that’s not saying much in QB poor NFL — but he has won just one playoff game since the 2008 season and is likely to have his third straight losing season (the Chargers are 3-6). Would a younger (by six years) Kaepernick be better? We think so.
2. Arizona Cardinals
If his days as a NFL quarterback aren’t already up, Carson Palmer should be close to retirement — and he’ll miss the rest of this season recovering from a broken arm. He’s had a good run, but will be 38 soon and he’s no Tom Brady. This season he was strictly average and his team is a little below average as of Friday, sporting a 4-5 record and little hope of making the playoffs. And Drew Stanton is hardly a viable replacement, having passed for 540 yards in three games, with TD strikes and two interceptions for a passer rating of 68.9 (he is 66.7 lifetime). Stanton is doubtful for Arizona’s tilt in Houston Sunday, which means Kaepernick’s so-so former back-up in San Francisco, Blaine Gabbert, might get the call. Oh, the humanity.
1. New York Giants
The two teams in New York shouldn’t be as irrelevant as they are right now. The Jets at 4-6 have little hope of making the playoffs and the Giants, well, no hope in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. It’s not like Eli Manning is playing all that bad (2,093 yards in nine games, 14 TD, 6 INT), but neither is he playing all that good. His passer rating has been on slow drip for four seasons now, from 92.1 in 2014 to 88.6 this season, ditto his overall QB Rating, which has tumbled from 62.5 to 43.3. The long and short of it says that Eli is the soon-to-be 37-year-old captain of a leaky 1-8 ship. He has been to the post-season just once (losing to Green Bay last year) since the Giants surprised the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and won’t likely in the foreseeable future. The team should have at least explored the option of Kaepernick as no. 2 this season, with an eye to replacing Manning.