Colin Kaepernick still does not have an NFL job. He apparently won’t be getting one with the Seattle Seahawks in the immediate future, and there were conflicting reports Thursday about exactly why that is.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the team this week postponed a Kaepernick workout after the quarterback “declined to stop kneeling during the national anthem next season.” That report was partly contradicted by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who reported that the Seahawks postponed the workout because “the team asked for [Kaepernick’s] plan moving forward on how to handle everything and there was not a firm plan.”
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson tweeted that his sources were aligning with Schefter’s, and that the issue was specifically kneeling rather than the lack of a plan.
The scheduled workout “was on the books for Monday,” Robinson wrote, adding that the Seattle front office then “followed up and asked if Kaepernick would stipulate to ending his kneeling during anthem. Kaepernick said no,” and, according to Robinson, the Seahawks then canceled the visit.
According to the Seattle Times, Kaepernick said he didn’t know what his plans for off-field activities would be in 2018. The team decided to postpone his scheduled visit while Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider discussed the matter, according to the Times, which added that Kaepernick still could be considered and brought in for a visit. The Times also reported that the club wanted “assurances of his commitment to football.” Kaepernick’s visit had been scheduled two weeks ago, according to the ESPN report, but was to take place this week.
Rapoport also suggested the meeting was postponed until later, writing that the Seahawks brass wanted Kaepernick “to consider how he wants to proceed on everything (not just anthem) and get together at a later date when his plans are formed.” But Rapoport acknowledged that “those close to Kaepernick” were maintaining that the issue was specifically with the quarterback’s kneeling.
With Kaepernick, nothing is simple, with many NFL observers believing he is being blacklisted because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem. He began kneeling during the 2016 preseason to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the United States, and after a fairly successful performance that year, he sat out the 2017 season after he and the San Francisco 49ers parted company last March.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in October, alleging collusion by team owners to keep him out of the league for his political activism, and he and his legal team have been deposing some owners and other officials as part of their evidence-collection process. Robinson reported that Kaepernick was set to be on hand Thursday in Frisco, Tex., for the deposition of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, adding a notable layer to the concurrent reports of his setback with the Seahawks.
According to Robinson, Kaepernick was present last month for the deposition of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who, like Jones, has spoken out sharply against player protests. Other reports claimed that the free agent quarterback also attended the depositions last week of Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome; that team had made a public show of strongly considering signing Kaepernick last summer, only to pass on him as owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged the protests were a factor.
Kaepernick, 30, visited with the Seahawks last May, when Seattle was in the market for a backup to starting quarterback Russell Wilson, but the team decided not to sign him. Instead, the team opted for Austin Davis, who had a far less impressive résumé than Kaepernick’s, which has been the case with many free agent quarterbacks signed over the past two offseasons.
“He’s a starter in this league,” Carroll told reporters after the Seahawks passed on signing Kaepernick. “We have a starter, but he is a starter in this league and I can’t imagine somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
Seattle has room on its roster for a backup quarterback after it cut Trevone Boykin in the wake of domestic violence allegations lodged against him by his longtime girlfriend.
Kaepernick’s former 49ers teammate, free agent safety Eric Reid, also remains unsigned. Reid declined to stand for the anthem during the 2017 season, as pregame NFL demonstrations became the subject of a national debate that involved President Trump and Vice President Pence.
Reid reportedly met this week with Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown, who inquired about the safety’s national anthem plans for 2018. Brown’s conversation with Reid “almost exclusively centered on the topic, with Brown explaining that he intends to prohibit [kneeling during the anthem] — and with Brown at one point asking Reid for his response,” according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Taken aback by being put on the spot, Reid “wasn’t willing to make a commitment” about his plans, according to Florio.
NFL owners and players met last winter to discuss how to transform player activism into positive community action, and owners have, during this offseason, considered whether to change the league’s national anthem policy. However, there was no consensus on that issue at the league’s recent annual meetings. The game operations manual sent to teams by the league requires players to be on the sideline for the anthem, but does not require them to stand for it.
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