NFL training camps get started in the next two weeks, and most veteran free agents will be waiting for an injury to open up an opportunity. Anquan Boldin and other veterans might get a deal done at the start of camp, but for the most part unsigned players right now are waiting for something notable to happen.
One player still waiting is quarterback Colin Kaepernick (breaking news). Some NFL coaches have said they think Kaepernick will get signed at some point, but it is easy to be pessimistic about it. He had a reported meeting with the Seattle Seahawks, but by all accounts has not heard from any other team.
If Kaepernick ends up going unsigned, it would be an unprecedented situation in some regards. Football Outsiders analyst Scott Kacsmar put together a lengthy review of Kaepernick’s situation. The first half of the article covers most of what we’ve discussed this offseason. It goes into some of the crappier quarterbacks still holding onto jobs, including Kellen Clemens who I only learned today has been in the NFL for 12 years!
The second half of the article offers some interesting comparisons for players in Kaepernick’s situation from a football perspective. Kacsmar took a look back through NFL history, and found 144 quarterbacks who threw threw at least 200 passes in their age-29 season. If Kaepernick does sign this season, he will be the only one in that group not to appear on an NFL roster in his age-30 season. Seven of that group of 144 did not throw a pass in their age-30 season, but only one was formally not on a roster. Bobby Hebert was on the New Orleans Saints roster, but unhappiness with his contract situation led him to hold out for the whole season.
Kacsmar also looked at quarterbacks who threw at least 1,500 career passes before their age-30 season. He found 117 such quarterbacks, including Chad Henne, Tim Couch, Josh Freeman, and Doug Williams. Henne remained in Jacksonville as a backup to rookie Blake Bortles. Couch dealt with a host of injuries, and shoulder surgery cut short a comeback attempt. Freeman was all over the place, playing in the Fall Experimental Football League and the CFL. Williams left the dysfunctional Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play in the USFL, but returned to the NFL for his age-31 season.
People will think what they want to think. I don’t think a formal black-ball is in effect, by which I mean, I don’t think there’s an email or there was a meeting to make it happen. But I do think something is up based on Kaepernick’s forceful public positions on issues of racial equality. Some will agree, some will disagree, and I imagine Kacsmar’s article will change very few opinions.