Colin Kaepernick is likely being blackballed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. There have been plenty of other reasons and excuses provided by NFL teams to explain why the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is still a free agent, but Kaepernick’s protests from the 2016 season loom large.
In a Thursday morning appearance on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike, Adam Schefter said he believes that NFL owners have tried to keep coaches and front-office personnel from going after Kaepernick.
“Do I think that certain owners have blocked teams from visits or interest? I do, I do believe that,” Schefter said. “And I think that there has been more interest in him from the coaching and front office level than there has been at the ownership level. So it was always going to take a unique opportunity for him to be brought in, in the right place, at the right spot, at the right time.”
Many others believe NFL owners have halted general managers from signing Kaepernick, but Schefter is one of the most connected reporters in the league and one of the few to actually say that owners are likely the reason Kaepernick is still a free agent.
Schefter cited the Baltimore Ravens as a potential landing spot for Kaepernick after Joe Flacco suffered a back injury that could keep him out for as many as six weeks. With Flacco sidelined, the only other quarterbacks on the roster are Ryan Mallett and Dustin Vaughan. Couple the team’s need of another passer in training camp with a potential reunion with former 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and the pairing makes a lot of sense.
But ownership has been the biggest hurdle for Kaepernick to overcome and eyes will be on Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. In May, New York Giants owner John Mara hinted that the fear of backlash is one of the reasons why teams have shied away from Kaepernick.
“All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” Mara said, via The MMQB. “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot ...
“It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I’ve run into.”
Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt went a different route when asked about Kaepernick on Wednesday.
“Generally, I’m not going to tell our head coach or our GM not to bring in a player if they think that player can bring us some success on the field and make us better,” Hunt told NBC Sports Radio. “Now there are certain circumstances where guys get in trouble off the field and that is something as an organization and as a family we care about. We’re not going to bring those types of players in. In terms of a player like Colin, I would have no hesitation bringing him into the organization.”
But with Alex Smith ready to start in 2017 and the Chiefs grooming first-round rookie Patrick Mahomes II to be the eventual starter, there isn’t much of a need at quarterback. The Ravens can’t say the same.
In March, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked about Kaepernick and told Pro Football Weekly that he doesn’t believe the quarterback would be a distraction.
“It wouldn’t be a problem for us in our organization,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been very clear over the years. Guys speak their minds in Baltimore.
“I think the players understand and everybody respects everybody else’s opinion on politics. It’s not going to impact how somebody plays. I’m not going to play better or worse because this person believes this or that.”
The question now is whether ownership in Baltimore would endorse the signing of Kaepernick.