After news of Gabbert's deal came out, the controversy that followed had nothing to do with him and everything to do with another free agent quarterback: Colin Kaepernick.
If you watched the 49ers play last season, it was pretty clear that Kaepernick was the best quarterback on a roster that also included Gabbert. That's not saying much, but it is saying that Kaepernick is better than Gabbert.
With Gabbert now headed to Arizona and Kaepernick still waiting for a team to call him, many people took that as a sign that the NFL is blackballing Kaepernick, even if the teams say they're not.
San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami didn't necessarily think Kaepernick was being blackballed before, but now that Gabbert's been signed, he's pretty sure that it's happening, which seemed to be a general consensus across Twitter.
Even better if I type it correctly: Gabbert getting a job ahead of Kaepernick was my "black ball" line of demarcation. Just crossed.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 10, 2017
The fact that Gabbert has a job and Kaepernick doesn't is 100% proof the NFL has black balled Colin. Gabbert sucks. Colin is much better— Bob Fescoe (@bobfescoe) May 11, 2017
Blaine Gabbert just got a job.— nick wright (@getnickwright) May 10, 2017
Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed.
Know who should maybe keep their politics out of football? NFL GMs.
Nothing against Gabbert but I was hoping that he wouldn't get signed unless Kaepernick did. I didn't want to believe what I thought was true— Jennifer Lee Chan (@jenniferleechan) May 11, 2017
The idea that Kaepernick's being blackballed is definitely believable. After all, he basically hasn't received a call since the beginning of free agency, even though he was arguably one of the top quarterbacks available this year.
It's not crazy to think that teams are staying away from him because of his social activism and due to the fact that he kneeled during the national anthem last season. For the most part, NFL teams are risk averse, and they seem to view him as a risky signing.
On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Kaepernick remains unsigned because there wasn't much demand for him before he turned to social activism.
Back in April 2016, the 49ers were open to trading him, but there were literally zero takers, and that was before he started kneeling for the national anthem. Teams weren't too interested in him then, so it's not a complete shock that he's drawing little interest now.
The two biggest issues keeping teams away from him in April 2016 were the fact that Kaepernick was coming off multiple surgeries and the fact that he had a contract that was due to pay him $14.3 million in 2016, $16.9 million in 2017, $17.4 million in 2018 and $19.2 million in 2019. (Hisin October, and he opted out of that deal in March). No team wanted that, so there was no market.
This time around, things are obviously different, but it's probably not fair to equate Gabbert's signing with Kaepernick being blackballed. Gabbart's deal with Arizona is reportedly for the league minimum ($900,000). Kaepernick hasn't given any indication that he'd be willing to play for that amount of money, which means this wasn't a situation where the Cardinals picked Gabbert over him for the same amount of money.
In this instance, the Cardinals had a budget and they found the best quarterback they could for the money they were willing to pay. If the Cards had given Gabbert a deal for $4 million to $6 million, this would be a different situation.
Anyway, one person we haven't heard from on the Kaepernick situation is Kaepernick himself. If he were willing to sit down for one interview, he could clear a few things up. Reports have been all over the place about what Kaepernickand how in 2017.
The big questions with Kaepernick are: Does he definitely want to play football in 2017? Is he willing to be a backup? Is he willing to take a hefty pay cut or accept a contract that includes little guaranteed money up front?
The answer to question one seems to be yes, but Kaepernick still hasn't come out and said it.
If the answer to each of those questions is yes, then it's likely that NFL teams are avoiding him. The more likely answer is that the teams that Ravens --- are the teams that don't need him right now (Ravens coach John Harbaugh is one of the few NFL decision-makers who's gone on the record in regards to the Kaepernick situation).-- like the
The only upside to Kaepernick's ongoing free agency is that he's been able to stay busy: He helped to provide food and water for the people of Somalia, he donated his huge sneaker collection to charity, he sent a $50,000 donation to Meals on Wheels and he gave paroled.
Not to mention Kaepernick made the decision to donate $1 million to communities in need of help.
The former 49ers quarterback has helped more people this offseason than most of us will help in a lifetime.
The bottom line is that if Kaepernick wants to play football this year, he should be able to, because he's definitely one of the 64 best quarterbacks in the sport.