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Moxley: Kaepernick is unsigned for all the wrong reasons

| Monday, April 3, 2017

It is very unusual for a 29-year-old quarterback with the ability of Colin Kaepernick to remain unsigned. He is a seasoned quarterback who has experience playing in the Super Bowl and has amassed a passer rating of 88.9 over his career. This is the 17th best mark of all-time, ranking above respected, signed starters such as Eli Manning and Joe Flacco.

Kaepernick’s demand to start, and to be paid accordingly, limits his chances to sign with teams like the Panthers, who need solid backups for established starters. Additionally, teams are unsure of Kaepernicks’s commitment to football due to his off-the-field behavior. One concern is his vegan diet because, although other players have restrictive diets, very few players go as far as being strictly vegan. For example, Tom Brady is vegan for most of the year, but he adds lean meat to his diet during the winter months. Kaepernick struggled to maintain his weight during last offseason, and building strength is vital for an NFL quarterback.

The Chicago Bears signed Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract early in the free-agency period, and they have plans to start him. Kaepernick has better career numbers and reportedly only wants $9 million per year, so why wouldn’t the Bears sign a quarterback who is better on paper and wants less money?

First of all, Kaepernick is viewed as a distraction because of his outspokenness on political issues: Browns’ left-tackle Joe Thomas tweeted on March 25 as to why the Browns won’t pick up Kaepernick even though the team has been in dire need of a quarterback since 1999: “Teams don’t currently view him as a starting QB, and NFL teams accept ZERO distractions from their backup QBs.” However, teams have put up with Tim Tebow — a third stringer — who brings loads of media personnel and attention everywhere he goes. Also, controversial figures such as Michael Vick, Vince Young and Jeff Garcia earned places on teams after gaining negative attention and causing significant distractions for their teams.

The sad truth is that if Kaepernick were a distraction for other reasons — such as getting arrested for DUI or failing a drug test — he’d be on an NFL team right now, guaranteed. Instead, he is a distraction because of his views on something controversial. As a result, he is stuck without a job for which he is clearly qualified.

Overall, the quarterback market will determine Kaepernick’s fate. Late in the free-agency period, there will be teams with holes and they will take a better look at him.

Will his political views and protests factor into teams’ decision-making?

Absolutely. But that won’t be enough for teams to avoid him.

In the end, teams want to win, and they will sign Kaepernick if he gives them the best chance to do that. If he loses, the team will cut its ties after a single season, and Kaepernick will struggle in the subsequent free-agency period. On the other hand, fans will overlook his political drama if he wins, and he may be able to build a solid career with a team.

NFL teams are smart marketers; they will find ways to sell a player to the public. For example, teams are currently trying to figure out ways to draft and sell Joe Mixon — a former Oklahoma Sooners running back known for knocking a woman unconscious — to their fan bases. Teams will do just about anything to sign the talent they want, appease their fan-base and, most importantly, win football games.

Kaepernick will end up on a team this season, and if he can prove himself as a winning quarterback, his team and its fans will finally accept him as their leader.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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