The Philadelphia Eagles Should Consider Signing Colin Kaepernick

Jan 1, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes the football against Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the fourth quarter at Levis Stadium Seahawks defeated the 49ers 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes the football against Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the fourth quarter at Levis Stadium Seahawks defeated the 49ers 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

If the rest of the NFL passes on Colin Kaepernick, the Philadelphia Eagles should take a flier on the former 49ers quarterback.

Caution: Hot take alert. Apply sunscreen as needed.

I would like to make a modest proposal. The Philadelphia Eagles should sign Colin Kaepernick.

This proposition depends on the following conditions: (1) the Eagles are not planning on drafting a quarterback in the later rounds as a developmental project; (2) Kaepernick is willing to accept a minimal salary and a role as a backup; (3) Kaepernick is willing to spend the year productively, working on the flaws in his game that have hindered his progress; and (4) it is true, as Washington Post scribe Kevin Blackistone suggested in a recent column, that Kap has been effectively blackballed by NFL owners.

The first premise seems fairly plausible. The Eagles shored up their offensive depth chart in free agency and will likely devote their draft assets to the defensive side of the ball. With Carson Wentz entrenched as the starter for the long term and Nick Foles positioned as his backup, there is no need to expend a draft pick on a third-string quarterback. Moreover, the alleged weakness of the 2017 quarterback draft class renders the possibility of selecting a late-round quarterback even more remote.

Let’s take points two and three together. It might be a stretch to think that Colin Kaepernick would be willing to accept a minimum salary and a role as a third-string quarterback. Frankly, Kap’s resume should allow him to command a higher salary and a better position on the organizational depth chart.

Just four years ago, Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Kap fell ten yards short of claiming the mantle of Montana and Young and becoming the next legendary 49er quarterback.

Nevertheless, NFL pundits were quick to praise the young quarterback. Ron Jaworski went so far as to proclaim that Kaepernick “could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.”

Then, circumstances changed, as they so often do in the rapidly adjusting world of the NFL. Defenses began to figure out and neutralize the read-option offense. writer Chris Wesseling argues that Kaepernick’s struggles began when the 49ers tried to turn him into a pocket passer. The 49ers organization’s decision to cut ties with Jim Harbaugh after the 2014-2015 season certainly did not help the quarterback’s transition to a new style of play.

The art of passing from the pocket is not easy to master, especially for a mobile quarterback. The criticism that Wesseling levels at Kaepernick was once laid at the feet of Steve Young before he was traded to the 49ers and learned Bill Walsh‘s West Coast offense. Kaepernick might benefit from a year under the tutelage of the Eagles’ coaching triumvirate of Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, and John DeFilippo.

Kaepernick would be able to refine his game and master the intricacies of a pro-style offense without contending with the pressure of needing to perform on game day. The one-year “sabbatical” would better position Kap in next season’s free agent market and enable him to hone the skills on which he’ll need to rely as he seeks to re-establish himself as a starter in the NFL.

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The arrangement would benefit the Philadelphia Eagles as well. Provided Kaepernick is willing to take a cap-friendly salary, the Eagles would be adding a decent, low-cost insurance policy to their roster should the injury bug strike the team at the game’s most crucial position.

But why would Kaepernick accept such an arrangement? Surely a desperate NFL franchise would be willing to take a chance on him. Right?

And that brings us to the fourth condition. An essay from Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman suggests that Kaepernick’s prolonged stay on the free agent market may be more than coincidental. In his piece, Freeman quotes an anonymous AFC general manager who lays out the grim employment landscape in which Kaepernick finds himself. The GM describes the mindset of 60% of NFL front office decision makers thusly:

"“Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”"

If a significant portion of the league is willing to write off Kap, Howie Roseman should take advantage of the shortsightedness of his peers and offer the controversial quarterback a contract.

I have managed to make it to the 800 word mark without mentioning why, exactly, Kaepernick has become an NFL exile. We all know the story.

Okay, let’s rehash the details of the Kaepernick saga, just in case.

In the offseason, Kaepernick was charged with a DWI just a few years after he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a drunk driving incident that claimed the life of Susan Gutweiler.

Wait, I have the wrong guy. That was Leonard Little, who was able to resume his career in spite of his indiscretions.

Now I remember. Kaepernick got drunk at a Kenny Chesney concert and hurled a racial epithet at a security guard. The incident divided the 49ers locker room, especially when the quarterback remained on the roster and was rewarded with a contract extension.

Darn it. Wrong again. Kaepernick’s crime was much worse than Riley Cooper‘s outburst.

Kaepernick was involved in an incident in which he punched a woman in the face. No, that was Joe Mixon, who in 7 months will be the subject of soft-focus pregame interviews that will allow him to express his profound regret over the “unfortunate situation.” To earn redemption in the NFL, all it takes is a couple of 100 yard games and a few crucial touchdowns.

Aha! It’s coming back to me now. Kaepernick was caught on video denigrating the military service of Senator John McCain, who was a POW during the Vietnam War. The imbecile even had the gall to say, “I like people that weren’t captured.”

No, that’s not right. But I’m close. Oh wait! Yes, it’s coming into focus now. Kaepernick dishonored our veterans with an action, not with words. He refused to stand for the pregame national anthem, instead opting to kneel in protest.

Kaepernick knelt because he had grown disgusted by the rash of police shootings that claimed the lives of black men throughout the nation. He explained his position early in the season. He believed that the country’s principles of freedom and equality were not being universally applied. He hoped his protest would spur awareness about the perceived plight of minority communities with respect to their interactions with the police.

When he looks back on his protest, Kaepernick will come to regret his overconfidence in our collective ability to have a productive conversation. The dialogue he hoped to spur too often devolved into a debate about the propriety of the protest. We trade in feelings now. Logic and facts have taken a back seat to emotions. The barrier to entry is so low; anyone can engage in the “was it appropriate?” discussion. In the course of democratizing the conversation, we’ve dumbed it down.

There have been exceptions. Surprisingly, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe have done a number of compelling segments on the Kaepernick situation on Undisputed. However, the usual outrage leeches in the media have exploited Kaepernick’s act in order to goose their ratings.

In all honesty, I felt conflicted about Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. For one, I did not fully agree with his views about law enforcement. His decision to wear socks depicting the police as pigs demonstrated his immaturity and lent credence to the criticism that he was allowing the behavior of some police officers to define all police officers.

It’s a complicated situation. On the one hand, we would be foolish to discount the long history of intimidation and brutalization that minority communities have endured at the hands of law enforcement. On the other hand, the past is the past. Progress has certainly been made since the first half of the twentieth century, in which cops were often enforcing Jim Crow laws and other discriminatory legislation, and today. But has it been stalled?

We can understand the frustration of police officers who have difficulty finding witnesses to testify in homicides perpetrated by black men against black men. We can simultaneously appreciate the anger of folks who cannot understand why so many police officers are deemed innocent in the deaths of black men.

We can acknowledge the danger of patrolling a high-crime area while also realizing that black men feel that their skin color puts a target on their back.

Complexity demands empathy. It is the only way to bridge the gaps that have widened into chasms over the past few years.

It also demands thought. Are we capable of thinking anymore? Do we possess the ability of grappling with an idea with which we may not agree? Are we able to feel uncomfortable, at least for a moment, before we assume a defensive position? Can we recognize the limits of our own experiences and knowledge? Are we able to navigate an emotionally explosive issue and arrive at a place where we can have an intellectual give-and-take?

Colin Kaepernick certainly got me thinking. I wondered what good might be done if 1/1000 of the vitriol directed at the quarterback were channeled toward demanding improvements in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I wondered why we continue to allow “the troops” to be used as rhetorical pawns in political conversations. I wondered if the national anthem has become a grand virtue-signalling exercise, a theatrical display of patriotism that ultimately requires nothing of the participant.

I wondered about the potential dangers of conflating respect for the flag and, by extension, the country, with respect for veterans. I wondered how front office executives dealt with the cognitive dissonance that resulted from despising Kaepernick’s protest of a celebration of American values.

I wondered.

Ultimately, signing Colin Kaepernick is a luxury the Philadelphia Eagles may decide they cannot afford.

It’s easy to anticipate the criticism. He’ll be a distraction. The Philadelphia Eagles don’t need him. He doesn’t fit the scheme. He has nothing left in the tank.

I get it. Well, most of it. The people who fret the most about “distractions” are typically the same people who wallow in these silly narratives like pigs in you-know-what. If they were truly concerned about the “distraction,” they would refrain from asking the players about it.

The Eagles certainly don’t need Kaepernick. Carson Wentz is going nowhere. Foles is a competent backup. If the Philadelphia Eagles are forced to play a third-string quarterback, their season is likely lost anyway.

He may not be a natural fit in the Eagles’ offensive scheme, though Doug Pederson’s offense is quite adaptable to the skills of the player piloting it.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles: Making the Case to Trade Back

Kaepernick may have lost his drive to be great, although no one looks good in the midst of a 2-14 season.

Who knows? But if the price is right, it’s worth consideration.