Performance, Not Patriotism Why Kaepernick Out Of Work – Other Anthem Kneelers Signed

Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the sidelines during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, California

Filmmaker Spike Lee doesn’t understand why free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been signed.

Lee wrote on Instagram, “Smells MAD fishy to me, stinks to the high heavens”

Lee and others feel Kaepernick is being blackballed because he kneeled during the national anthem last season.

Perhaps that is part of the story, but not the whole story.

The biggest reason Kaepernick’s still unsigned is that he’s just not a very good quarterback right now. His play has slipped significantly since he helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to a 2013 Super Bowl appearance.

The NFL has a dearth of elite quarterbacks. If a team felt Kaepernick would solve their quarterback issue, he’d likely be on a team right now.

Lee asked, “What owner and GM is going to step up and sign Colin so their team has a better chance to win?”

Mr. Lee, teams are very forgiving if they think a player can help them win.

That is why Kaepernick’s fellow anthem-kneeler, Miami receiver Kenny Stills, recently got a new four-year, $32 million contract from the Dolphins. He was forgiven because he had a terrific 2016 season (nine touchdowns) and the Dolphins think he can help them win. The Dolphins are also bringing back safety Michael Thomas, who also kneeled. He’s a very good safety and special teams player.

Teams are willing to add mercurial players they think will help them win. Why do you think wide receiver Terrell Owens got so many jobs? However, if teams think a player isn’t very good, and a headache to boot, they tend to stay away.

Kaepernick’s unemployment right now isn’t as much related to disrespecting the country and police (remember his cop-pig socks last summer), but more about his underwhelming play.

Last year, in back-to-back losses to a pair of terrible teams, Chicago and the New York Jets, he showed why he’s out of work. Against the Bears, he threw for four yards in three quarters before being benched. Against the Jets, he threw for four yards in the second half, against perhaps the NFL’s worst secondary, and 49ers lost in overtime.

One problem is he’s not very good at reading defenses, and gets fixated on his first read, not doing a great job going through his progressions.

ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer feels Kapenerick is a “remedial passer” once defenses take away his first read.

Dilfer told Sports Illustrated in 2013, “He takes his first read and sticks with it. But if they take your first read away, that’s pretty much it. You don’t work deep through your progressions, you don’t get the ball out to other receivers.”

This has been problem the last four seasons.

He also tends to abandon the pocket too quickly. In other words, he scrambles too much. The great NFL quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers do their best work from the pocket, rarely running.

“He’s going to have to tie his legs in training camp,” ESPN’s Steve Young said in 2014. “Literally, he should tie his legs, physically, so he can’t do anything but throw from the pocket.”

Also, his throwing mechanics are flawed leading to accuracy issues. He once admitted he’s not that into “throwing mechanics.” Teams aren’t going to jump through hoops to sign inaccurate free agent quarterbacks.

“There is no more important attribute for a quarterback than accuracy, especially for a free agent who is shopping himself to teams with various schemes,” wrote ESPN NFL columnist Kevin Seifert. “All passers miss throws, but Kaepernick over the past two seasons has done it as much or as more as anyone.”

So it’s more performance, than a perceived lack of patriotism, that has Keapernick unemployed right now.