San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch revealed on Friday that former starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick was “very close” to signing a deal with a new team before negotiations fell through.
Kaepernick, who became a free agent when he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in early March, may have few teams to choose from, as some executives around the league reportedly “hate him” and/or fear the attention he could net should president Donald Trump opine on the controversial quarterback.
The 29-year-old owns a resume like no other. He set the NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game in 2013, but most recently set a record for futility by throwing for just four yards in a game against the Bears in December.
He took the Niners to the Super Bowl in 2013, then made national headlines in 2016 for kneeling during the national anthem.
Kaepernick is just six seasons into his NFL career. The next team that signs him must be prepared for the complicated conversations that will follow. So which team nearly signed him? Here are three candidates:
The Bills were bold enough to be the first NFL team to exclusively employ black quarterbacks when their depth chart featured Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, and Cardale Jones. Manuel is reportedly signing with the Oakland Raiders, freeing a spot at backup quarterback in Buffalo.
Taylor is ingrained as the team’s starter and that won’t change should the Bills sign Kaepernick. He might be their ideal backup, however. Should something happen to their dual-threat starting quarterback, very little would have to change offensively for Kaepernick, a dual-threat pivot in his own right.
The belief is defensive coaches most fear quarterbacks adept at both running and passing. New head coach, and former defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott may choose to make that the focus of his offense.
Finally, the media glare might not be as harsh in Buffalo. However, the franchise might be loath to take on more controversy after cutting ties with boastful coach Rex Ryan.
New York Jets
The Jets are said to be courting free agent Jay Cutler. Well, what’s the hold up?
It’s entirely possible the team has failed to come to terms with the veteran and it’s even more likely that Cutler happens to be too expensive for the Jets.
New York is still in the market for a starting quarterback, seeing as they allowed both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith to walk. Kaepernick won just one game in 11 starts last season, but his supporting cast had just as much to do with the results as his play did. Kaepernick dialed back his scrambling and ratcheted up his pass attempts in an effort to showcase himself to potential suitors.
The Jets are almost guaranteed to add a quarterback in the draft. They may have pursued a cheap place-holder in the meantime.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Glennon has flown the coop to Chicago and that leaves a gaping hole behind franchise quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Buccaneers were reportedly prepared to make Glennon the highest-paid backup in football at a salary of more than $7 million per season. With few starting jobs available, a salary in that range would likely be palatable to Kaepernick, though it represents a pay cut for him.
After signing DeSean Jackson, Chris Baker, and J.J. Wilcox in free agency, the Buccaneers have to protect against a drastic drop off in the event Winston can’t start all 16 games as he has the first two years of his career.
However, the Bucs may fear altering the chemistry of such a young lineup, especially one believed to be on the cusp of playoff contention. They may have little other recourse, however, if they fear entrusting Ryan Griffin with backup duties.
Tampa also resides far from the national spotlight, a reality that may be beneficial to Kaepernick at this stage in his career.
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