Colin Kaepernick remains sidelined as training camps open, and questions linger
As high as Michael Vick rates on the ridiculous meter for suggesting that Colin Kaepernick shave his signature Afro, it was not the most absurd development of the week related to the most polarizing quarterback still without a job.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Rams signed Dan Orlovsky.
Sure, the Rams are invested heavily in the quarterback they drafted No. 1 overall last year, Jared Goff. They view Orlovsky as the third quarterback, a notch below Sean Mannion, a capable veteran presence to assist in developing the young arms.
Rams GM Les Snead, in a text-message to USA TODAY Sports on Saturday, explained that the focus is on getting Goff ready and that Orlovsky won’t see many 11-on-11 reps during training camp drills and probably only mop-up work in the preseason games.
That Orlovsky, a 13th-year pro on his sixth NFL stop, was once an understudy for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and then for Matthew Stafford in Detroit added to his appeal to the Rams. They want him primarily as a tutor, not as someone to push competition. Go figure.
As Snead wrote, “So the guy coming in our building needed to know his role for us on the front end and be totally bought into dominating that specific role for us.”
In other words, Kaepernick, 29, is too good for some mere No. 3 job.
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I’m not buying it. Once again – Orlovsky was the 24th quarterback, mostly backups, signed by an NFL team this offseason -- there’s always something justify not signing Kaepernick.
Whether you want to believe it or not, this is what being blackballed looks like in today’s NFL.
Kaepernick quarterbacked a team a Super Bowl, which contrasts the distinction on Orlovsky’s journey of scrambling out of the end zone for a safety during the Lions’ 0-16 disaster in 2008. Last season, on a pitiful San Francisco 49ers team, Kaepernick had a 16-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and a 90.7 passer rating. Coming off multiple offseason surgeries, he didn’t exactly stink up the joint.
That Kaepernick still can’t get signed to compete for a job – even a backup job – is the carry-over stain from last season that the NFL should be ashamed of as teams begin reporting to training camps. There are players with issues involving domestic violence, drunk driving, weapons and drugs on NFL rosters. But not Kaepernick.
Would a quarterback entering the prime of his career in a quarterback-starved league remain unsigned if he had not ignited a national conversation last season by taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice?
Of course not.
It’s time for Roger Goodell to commission another investigation headed by Ted Wells. Because at this rate, O.J. Simpson seems to stand a better chance than Kaepernick of getting signed by an NFL team.
And that’s just so sad.
Whatever happened to the concept of collecting as much good talent as possible – especially at the premium quarterback position – and raising the bar with good competition?
Does not apply with Kaepernick.
Which reminds me: Where’s the NFL players union amid all this?
For two years, NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith and crew were all-in on fighting the NFL on behalf of Tom Brady in the Deflategate saga, willing to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m not saying the NFLPA should not have fought with Brady, but Kaepernick has been a dues-paying member, too. While it can be sticky for the union to fight for the job prospects of individual players on the free agent market, Smith and Co. have to see this as a special case.
The longer Kaepernick remains out of work, the more the union needs to dig in their heels and demonstrate that it won’t give the NFL a pass on this.
Vick, whose reputation and career imploded with the dogfighting conviction that sent him to federal prison, awkwardly meant well with his foolish remarks on FS1 last week. While grabbing at Kaepernick’s hair, Vick was essentially saying what we all know: This is not just about football potential.
It’s just that Vick would have better served the public by pointing out a few of the names of quarterbacks who have been signed this offseason instead of Kaepernick.
There’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw 17 interceptions last season for the Jets and was the NFL’s lowest-rated passer with a 69.6 efficiency mark. He’s got a new job, though, as a Buccaneers backup. There’s Blaine Gabbert, benched by the 49ers last season in favor of Kaepernick, signed by the Cardinals. And Austin Davis is still in the league, too, signed by the Seahawks after they brought him and Kaepernick in for visits.
Yet here’s Kaepernick, still looking for a chance to compete. Talk about injustice.
Follow NFL columnist Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell