Richard Sherman says Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL teams

Guardian sport
Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent after opting out of his contract with San Francisco. Photograph: Jake Roth/Reuters

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman believes Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL teams for his political protest last season.

Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract earlier this month, but is still a free agent, having garnered little interest from teams around the league. Sherman told ESPN First Take on Friday that Kaepernick’s remaining unsigned has little to do with the quality of his play and everything to do with his national anthem protest of last year. “It has nothing to do with football. You can see that,” Sherman said.

Asked why Kaepernick has not yet been picked up by a new team – on a day that Mark Sanchez was taken by the Bears – Sherman said: “It’s difficult to see because he’s played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it’s difficult to understand.

“Obviously he’s going to be in a backup role at this point. But you see quarterbacks, there was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football. You can see that. They signed guys who have had off years before.”

Brian Hoyer, Nick Foles and Josh McCown have all found work this offseason, and Sherman said it was surprising Kaepernick hadn’t been taken considering the dearth of top talent at quarterback.

Sherman said: “You don’t have 32 starting-level quarterbacks in this league. You have about eight elites, and then you have the rest of the league. You have about eight, nine elite quarterbacks. You have two or three who have the potential to be elite. And then you have the rest of the teams.

“So he could play and start on a ton of teams in this league. He would be a starter on probably 20 of the teams in this league. But you’re telling me that you’re going to let other guys, you’re going to pick up some of these other guys and tell me that they’re starters?”

Kaepernick led San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII, and to the NFC championship game the following season, where they lost to Sherman’s Seahawks.

Earlier this month Kaepernick announced that he would drop his protest next season and stand for the national anthem.

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