The Los Angeles Rams have just two quarterbacks on their roster after cutting Aaron Murray earlier this month. The expected depth chart will have second year quarterback Jared Goff being backed up by third year signal-caller Sean Mannion. If the Rams want to bring in another quarterback, there are still some quality players on the market, most notably Colin Kaepernick. Would it make sense for the Rams to bring in the former 49ers star?
In short, the answer is no. No, it really wouldn’t make any sense. I think Kaepernick is actually too good to be Jared Goff’s backup. Should Goff be slow to start the year, fans would be calling for Kaepernick to start as he’s a better quarterback at the moment. There are younger quarterbacks that should use the pressure from Kaepernick as a push. Goff at the moment is absolutely not one of them.
Signing Kaepernick would also make it redundant to keeping Sean Mannion on the roster. While cutting Mannion wouldn’t be the end of the world, he’s a former third round pick who hasn’t gotten a chance to prove himself and still has some potential. The Rams should let Mannion air it out during the preseason and get another look at what they have. He could be a quality backup, he could be a bust, or he could be a hidden gem that may have trade value or starting potential down the line. Bringing in Kapernick would negate all of this.
There are a lot of teams in the league that are in similar situations. Even if Kaepernick is the best quarterback available, that doesn’t mean all 32 teams should throw money at him to be their backup. There are a couple different quarterback situations in the league. To list them:
- Proven Veterans – The guys that, barring something drastic, will not be benched this season. There are a bunch of teams in this category, so I’ll break it into tiers:
- Tier A: New England, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Seattle, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, Indianapolis, Detroit, Atlanta, Carolina
- Tier B: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Arizona
- Young Gunslingers – These are guys that, although very proven in the league, are still too young to group into the veteran tier. These guys also have no chance of losing their jobs not only this year, but for the next few years barring injuries or anything off the field. This group includes Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and Oakland.
- Prove it – This group has quarterbacks that haven’t really been given the keys to the kingdom yet. They range from “he’s good, but how good?” to “maybe it was just Gus Bradley.” This group includes Minnesota, Buffalo and Jacksonville.
- Let’s See What We Got – These are the teams who either have a young or a few young quarterbacks who they need to give a shot to prove themselves. They don’t need to bring in a backup who’s better than the guys they want to develop and could stunt development. This group includes Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, New York Jets, Cleveland, Houston, and Dallas, who fits somewhere in between this and the gunslingers tier. Additionally, there’s Kansas City, who took a quarterback in waiting and won’t bring in another one, and Chicago, who’s quarterback situation is too strange to explain.
- We Have a Proven Veteran, but We Have Commitment Issues – This group is just Washington.
- We Could Use Kaepernick, but He Opted Out of His Contract – This group is just San Francisco.
So where does Kaepernick fit into all of this? The “Prove It” tier is where it makes the most sense for him to land. Minnesota has too many quarterbacks, and Buffalo seems like they see promise in Cardale Jones behind Tyrod Taylor. Jacksonville is the best situation for Kaepernick, and the team makes the most sense to sign him. They committed to Blake Bortles, but how much could they really be committed him at this point? Kaepernick on Jacksonville provides two useful outcomes: he either pressures Bortles into taking the next step and becoming a franchise guy, or Bortles plays awful and you have a guy behind him who has played in a Super Bowl. It’s a win-win for me.
Jacksonville aside, it would make the most sense for teams in the “Proven Veterans” tier to bring in Kaepernick as a backup. Some of these teams have young guys in the system they like, some of them don’t. Adding Kaepernick would be the best insurance policy you can buy currently in the NFL. If you need a backup quarterback, he’s the best on the market.
Now that we’ve established why teams wouldn’t sign Kaepernick due to football logic, we can look at the other two reasons why he isn’t on an NFL team. The first is about Kaepernick himself. We can assume he wants to be a starter, and we can assume he wants starter money. He opted out of a good amount of money in San Francisco, and he still believes he’s one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the league. There just isn’t a place in the NFL right now for Kaepernick to start. He’ll have to lower his price and expectations to find a job.
IF Kaepernick has agreed to do that, then we can get into the controversial topics – that it’s argued that Kaepernick is being blacklisted by NFL teams due to his protest during the 2016 season. He took a knee during the national anthem to protest. I understand why people didn’t agree with this stance. But he’s been active off the field in the community explaining his actions and taking charge in making what he feels is a positive change in America. He’s also said he won’t take a knee in 2017.
If teams are truly not signing Kaepernick, because they don’t agree with his stance or they don’t want their backup quarterback to have a voice, it is absolutely ridiculous and disgraceful. There are NFL players who have been to jail, been accused and convicted of domestic violence, and plenty of other stuff that is worse than a peaceful protest before kickoff. It’s not like Kaepernick would throw a touchdown pass and burn an American flag at the 50-yard line to celebrate. Whether you agree with him or not, he was peaceful and had good intentions.
There are reasons for teams to not sign Kaepernick, but if he’s willing to backup for less money, he has a reason to be in the NFL. And if he isn’t on a roster by Week 1, I’ll be inclined to believe that something isn’t right. Would the NFL really want to be known as a league that silences people because they disagree with their political stance?
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here or check out his podcast Tejas and Lil Stevie.