What is there to evaluate?
Football should be the priority, obviously, but after the former star quarterback’s three years out of the league, it’s impossible to tell this story without also mentioning “politics” and “optics.”
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 after having led that team to Super Bowl XLVII. He become a controversial lightning rod after opting to kneel during the National Anthem in protest of social injustice. That made him a hero to some, a “problem” to others and ultimately, a non-entity to 32 teams.
But now, at age 32 and collusion lawsuits settled ... is Kaepernick suddenly viable in an NFL that is starting players like Jeff Driskel is Detroit (where the Cowboys play this week)? Is he suddenly recognized as superior to Mike White, who spent a wasted year on the Cowboys roster and is now clinging to an NFL career as a Jets practice-squadder?
Or, as Shan Shariff insisted this morning when we broke the news on 105.3 The Fan on "Shan & RJ,'' is this workout - staged by the NFL on an inconvenient late-season Saturday - a ruse, a way for the league to avoid more collusion claims?
“I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday,” Kaepernick tweeted on Tuesday evening. “I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday. “
One report quotes a source, apparently from the Kaepernick camp, and reads, “The expectation ... is that there will be reps from every team present.”
There are football reasons for the Cowboys to be there. There are “optics” reasons, too; a team not attending a workout of a prospect would stink of collusion all over again. And the issue of “politics”? Cowboys owner Jerry Jones it at peace with recent acquisitions Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett, two lieutenants in the movement captained by Kaepernick.
The Cowboys' personnel department flight to Atlanta isn't booked yet. The commitment to be there isn't firm. The possibility of a ruse exists. But I think the Quinn and Bennett stories add weight to the merits of at least an “evaluation.” ... and a legitimate one.