Colin Kaepernick still has the skill set to be an NFL quarterback somewhere in 2017. But between his regression as a highly-paid starter and the controversy he now carries with his bold off-field stances, his value as an NFLfree agent —fair or not —hasdwindled down to a cheap backup optionfor only a handful of teams.
From the top, there are manyteams that don't need Kaepernick because they already have good money invested in a top-flight starters and viableNo. 2 options. Then thereare thoseowners whodon't want Kaepernick representing their organizations, period.Then there are thosefranchises in big markets thatdon't want the media attention, and others in smaller marketsthat don't want to rattlea fan base with Kaepernick'spolitical leanings.
Taking into account allthose variableseliminates about 81 percent of the league, or 26 teams. With the opportunity for teams to draft QBs a littlemore than a month away, it's probably down to these half-dozen clubs to employ Kaepernick.
Tyrod Taylor is back on the fold as Buffalo's starter, but it also moved on for good from 2013 first-rounder EJ Manuel, who signed as the Raiders' third-stringer. Manuel drew a lot of comparisons to Kaepernick at one point, and his departure sets up second-year fourth-rounder Cardale Jones as the top backup.
Kaepernick, with his strong arm and athleticism,is built to be a good No. 2 behind Taylor. When Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison held the same role for Denver last offseason, the Broncostook a long look at Kap as a No. 1. This would be much less of a pressure situation to take that chance.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Baytendered Ryan Griffin with the intent of elevating him to Jameis Winston's top backup in the wake ofMike Glennon'sshockingly lucrative free-agent dealwithChicago. Geno Smith wasintriguing forthat role withthe Bucsbefore he signed to be Eli Manning's understudy with the Giants.
Rather than the Bucs going with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jay Cutler as what they see is what they'll get,Kaepernick would give coach Dirk Koetter someone he can use his offensive acumen tore-mold. Kaepernick can work well in the vertical passing gameand is set up to bondwith both Winston and his go-to receiver, Mike Evans.
Bruce Arians and Arizona know how good Kaepernick can be in his "scary groove"and even were impressed with the QBwhen he was offduring his final season in San Francisco.It's also clear, whether it's Clemson's Deshaun Watson early in the draft or someone else, thatthe Cards want to deal in a more athletic, strong-armed passer to succeed pure-pocket Carson Palmer soon.
This is only one of two options that could work out for Kaepernickto stay in the NFC West.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City traded Nick Foles to Philadelphiaand now is looking at Tyler Bray behind Alex Smith on the depth chart. It would be weird to see Smith and Kaepernick reunited with re-reversed roles away from the Niners, but that's why it also makessome sense.
Kaepernickhas some Donovan McNabb in him for Andy Reid's offense, and Smith has a history of mentoring Kaepernick. Those relationships would be good for Kaepernick to repair his on-fieldreputation.
Kaepernick's strongest advocate remains his former 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh. The Lions have aHarbaugh pupil from Michigan, Jake Rudock, as their current top backup to Matthew Stafford. Kaepernick would bea big upgrade in talent and experience.
Detroitunder Bob Quinnisn't shy about makingbold moves with both rookie and veteran personnel. It helps that Harbaugh is right up the road in Ann Arbor to further vouch for Kaepernick and provide support as needed. There's no doubt that Kap's arm and efficiencywould be a good starting point for Jim Bob Cooter to "re-develop" him into a more consistently accurate passer.
There are many reasons tolike Kaepernick joining his old archrivals in Seattle as Russell Wilson'sNo. 2 ahead of undrafted second-year QB Trevone Boykin. In case you missedit, they werelaid out indetail here.
In case you were wondering, this still would be the best situation for which Kaepernick could ask at this late point in free agency.