Lions GM Bob Quinn praises Colin Kaepernick, but won't sign him

Quinn said he still believes Kaepernick can succeed in the NFL, if he's in the right system

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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23. San Francisco 49ers (3-6, last week: 21): The Seahawks and Cardinals await after the bye week. In other words, San Francisco will be 3-8 in two weeks.

PHOENIX -- Donald Trump doesn't want Colin Kaepernick in the NFL, and plenty of the league's 32 teams seem to have reservations about employing the controversial quarterback, too.

The Detroit Lions are among the teams that won't be signing Kaepernick to a contract this spring, but general manager Bob Quinn said at the annual league meetings Monday that it has nothing to do with the potential distraction he'd be as a backup.

"I still think he has a place in this league," Quinn said in an evening sit-down with beat writers. "I don’t think watching Kap over the years -- is he a perfect system fit for us? Probably not. I think he has a great deal of talent. I think he has enough talent to be playing in this league in the right system."

Kaepernick has been without a job since opting out of his contact with the San Francisco 49ers before the start of free agency earlier this month.


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Though his star has fallen dramatically as a player since he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second NFL season, many believe his unemployment has more to do with his decision to kneel for the national anthem last season -- and the public hand-wringing that ensued -- than it does with his football ability.

Less accomplished free agent backups like Geno Smith and Josh McCown have found jobs, while the market for Kaepernick has been quiet.

Quinn sidestepped a question about whether Kaepernick is being blackballed on a league-wide basis because of his political views and the potential distraction he'd be in the locker room. But even if that's the case with some teams, Quinn said it's not an issue for the Lions.

"I don’t know what the 31 other teams really think about that stuff," Quinn said. "Like I told you about (why DeAndre Levy was released), that stuff doesn’t factor into my equation in evaluating the player and how he can fit into our team or our scheme."

A dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has four seasons with more than 400 yards rushing but has completed more than 60% of his passes just twice in six years.

The Lions offense thrives on the quick passing game and sound decision making. Matthew Stafford has the two highest completion percentage seasons of his career the last two years, and the Lions are planning to turn the backup job over to Jake Rudock, a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan last year, this fall.

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