Colin Kaepernick finally speaks: 'I'm ready right now' to return to the NFL

We're two weeks into the 2017 NFL regular season and Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent. Depending on your perspective, his free-agent purgatory is either a function of poor play in recent years or a concerted effort to blackball him for kneeling during the national anthem last year to protest social injustice. Either way, Kaepernick is out of work.

Detractors say that the former 49ers quarterback needs to speak publicly about his desire to continue his NFL career, something he hasn't done until now. Journalist Shaun King recently asked Kaepernick if he still wanted to play football

"Yes," Kaepernick said emphatically, according to King. "I've never stopped. I'm ready right now. Working out daily." 

Kaepernick, who played for the 49ers from 2011-16, began last season on the bench behind Blaine Gabbert, but was reinserted into the starting lineup in mid-October. When it was over, he had started 11 games and completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed 69 times for 468 yards and two scores. But according to Football Outsiders' metrics, Kaepernick ranked 30th among all quarterbacks, just ahead of Case KeenumRyan FitzpatrickBrock Osweiler and Jared Goff.

There was little interest in Kaepernick this offseason, though some of the most high-profile players in the league think he deserves another opportunity. 

"I've always watched him and admired him, the way that he's played he was a great young quarterback," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told Norah O'Donnell an exclusive interview with "CBS Sunday Morning" on Sunday morning,. "He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. He accomplished a lot in the pros as a player. And he's certainly qualified and I hope he gets a shot."

Brady's comments come several weeks after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgerssaid this about Kaepernick's situation.

"I think he should be on a roster right now. I think because of his protests, he's not," Rodgers told ESPN The Magazine's Mina Kimes.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also doesn't think Kaepernick's situation isn't about activism. Instead, it's a result of teams deciding that the quarterback isn't a good fit for their respective systems.

"I want to see everyone get an opportunity, including Colin, but those decisions are made by football people," Goodell said during an appearance on FS1 earlier this month. "When teams have a need and teams feel like they can get better by a particular individual, whether they know the system, or whether they have more talent, or whatever it may be, that's what they do. And I'm still convinced that he'll get that opportunity when the right opportunity comes along. That's what our league's all about."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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