Colin Kaepernick wins early battle against NFL in ongoing collusion case

Colin Kaepernick's collusion case against the NFL can now officially move forward after an arbitrator sided with the former 49ers quarterback on Thursday.  

Earlier this year, the NFL requested a summary judgment in the case, which basically meant that Kaepernick's legal team had to prove that there was enough evidence for things to move forward. The arbitrator overseeing the legal battle, Stephen Burbank, sided with Kaepernick's team on Thursday and refused to throw out the case. 

Kaepernick's lead lawyer in the case, Mark Geragos, was more than happy to share the news of Burbank's decision on Twitter.  

"On August 28, 2018, the System Arbitrator denied the NFL's request that he dismiss Colin Kaepernick's complaint alleging that his inability to secure a player contract since becoming a free agent in March 2017 has been due to an agreement among team owners and the NFL that violates Article 17, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA."

Burbank's decision came exactly three weeks after the summary judgment hearing originally started on Aug. 9

The part of the CBA that Burbank cited (Article 17, Section 1) basically says that teams aren't allowed to collude against an individual player. "No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making as follows: Whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player."

Calling for a summary judgment in this case was a big risk for the NFL, and it didn't pay off. If Burbank had sided with the league, then the case likely would have been thrown out. However, since Burbank sided with Kaepernick, the case will move forward with one big difference: Both Kaepernick's legal team and the NFL will know what they're up against. 

As part of the summary judgment, both sides were basically forced to reveal the key points in their cases, which means the NFL likely knows how Kaepernick is going to attack things and vice versa. 

Burbank's decision probably came as a slight surprise to the NFL, and that's because he's sided with the league in the past. Back in 2012, Burbank ruled that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was allowed to punish the Saints for BountyGate. Goodell's power was called into question by both the the team and the NFLPA after the commission handed out multiple suspensions in relation to the case. 

As for Kaepernick's case, the next thing on the docket is likely going to be more testimony. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has reported that the "next steps would include more testimony from owners, coaches and NFL officials."

With more testimony expected, it will likely be months before the case is resolved. Of course, the case could get resolved immediately if a team were to sign Kaepernick. Geragos has said that he would drop the case if his client ends up getting an NFL job. 

Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since March 2017. The 30-year-old quarterback quietly began his protests back in August 2016 when he decided to protest racial injustice and police brutality against minorities by sitting during the national anthem. Kaepernick eventually decided to kneel during the anthem after talking with a former Army Green Beret

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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