Colin Kaepernick’s continued NFL exile, which started in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of systemic racism and the oppression of African Americans, has been a hot topic of late. The outrage brought on by George Floyd’s tragic death in Minneapolis has sparked protests in nearly every major city. In the past, teams had largely distanced themselves from Kaepernick’s activism, but with the Black Lives Matter movement gaining support nationwide, the climate is quickly changing.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made an unprecedented statement in support of the black community last week, then followed up by committing $250 million over the next 10 years to causes promoting the “economic and educational advancement” of African Americans. The NFL will reportedly seek Kaepernick’s help in rolling out these initiatives, suggesting the stigma surrounding the outspoken quarterback is beginning to wear off as the league becomes more cognizant and forthright in tackling issues of social injustice.
Seahawks Pete Carroll hinted earlier this week that Kaepernick, who is reportedly “more motivated than ever” to resume his NFL career, has already drawn interest from at least one team. The 32-year-old held a showcase for teams in suburban Atlanta last fall, which was largely dismissed as a PR stunt orchestrated by the NFL. Kaepernick’s performance at that workout was met with mixed reviews, though the consensus was that he showed enough to at least warrant an NFL roster spot. With renewed interest around the league, how likely is it that the former 49ers QB returns to the league that abandoned him four years prior?
“I do think that he’s going to have a chance somewhere,” NBC’s Peter King told 95.7 The Game during his appearance Thursday on The Damon Bruce Show with Ratto and Kolsky. “I don’t know that. It’s a gut feeling I have.”
While King is going off little more than a hunch, the longtime football writer thinks there’s a good chance we’ll see Kaepernick on the workout circuit this offseason. “I do believe Colin Kaepernick is at least going to have a workout or two before the start of this season. I think teams are going to do some significant fact finding on him.”
Earning a tryout isn’t the same as offering a contract and King acknowledged there are still risks involved in signing a player as divisive and widely-recognized as Kaepernick. “What happens if that team decides that we really don’t want to keep him for the full year and it’s not working out or whatever?” asked King. “Those are the things that a team is really going to have to weigh before they decide whether they’re going to sign him.”
It’s too early to speculate on whether Kaepernick will realize his dream of returning to the NFL, but the fact teams are even considering it—something they weren’t doing before—is unquestionably a sign of progress.