PHOENIX – On Tuesday, ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if he thinks free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” after kneeling during the national anthem last season.
“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during a press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.
Goodell believes that if a team feels Kaepernick can help them win, he’ll likely get signed.
“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players; they work hard to try to improve their teams,” Goodell added. “But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”
The NFL has a dearth of elite quarterbacks. With only around 5-10 of them in a 32-team league, about 2/3rds of teams are still searching for a true difference-maker at quarterback. Without an elite quarterback, it’s hard to challenge for an NFL championship. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league.
Teams like Cleveland, Houston, Denver, San Francisco, Jacksonville and the New York Jets are desperately searching for a franchise quarterback. If Kaepernick was one, he’d be signed by now. But, he’s not, and he hasn’t played well since the 2013 season.
As ESPN’s Trent Dilfer put it, he’s a “remedial” reader of defenses. Kaepenick often gets stuck on his primary read, and doesn’t do a good job of seeing the whole field. He has a tendency to drop his eyes and halt his progressions when he feels pocket pressure. He also has accuracy issues.
Teams don’t sign mediocre players who are distractions. Great player who are a distraction – yes. Middle of the road performers who are distractions usually have a very hard time finding a job.
Kaepernick was a major distraction for the 49ers last year due to his anthem kneeling, which became an international story. Why did he kneel?
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL.com last August.
How the United States “oppresses black people and people of color” in the modern era is unclear, but he feels it’s still an issue.
However, Kaepernick’s camp has made it clear the quarterback will stand for the National Anthem moving forward.
That should help him in his job search.
But, what really would help him is playing better.