After a wild day of rescheduling and statements from his representatives and the NFL on Saturday, Colin Kaepernick took the field at Charles Drew High School in Riverdale for his private-turned-public workout. Fans showed up outside the high school gates to watch and cheer on Kaepernick while thousands tuned in as local reporters streamed the event.
Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler, Jordan Veasy and Ari Werts took the field to serve as wideouts, as Kaepernick threw passes up and down the route tree for over 30 minutes. According to CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, seven teams were represented at the workout: the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. Kaepernick thanked them all for coming.
Following the workout, Kaepernick was seen speaking with scouts from the Redskins, Jets and Chiefs. He told them, "When you go back, tell your owners to stop being scared," according to The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue.
Kaepernick may not have signed an NFL contract on Saturday, but it was clear that there is a level of interest when it comes to his services, and he also proved that he still knows how to throw the ball.
How he looked
Kaepernick threw post routes, in routes, out routes, fly routes and even routes in the flat. It's clear that he wanted to both show off his arm strength and his mobility when it came to play action and rollouts. He did throw a good amount of deep passes, however, and hit on most of them.
NFL scouts were definitely impressed with Kaepernick's arm strength.
"Colin Kaepernick got some very positive feedback from the scouts in attendance about his elite arm strength and ability to throw the deep ball," La Canfora reported.
"My takeaways from the live feed: more casual than most pro days, arm strength absolutely there, solid mobility on rollouts, timing with WRs understandably not consistently good," CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones tweeted, adding his opinion of Kaepernick's best throw:
"After today's workout in Atlanta, an NFL executive at Colin Kaepernick's throwing session said his arm talent is 'elite' and is the same as when he came out of college. He said that Kaepernick threw the ball well," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.
Kaepernick speaks after workout
After Kaepernick spent time signing autographs and chatting with fans, he addressed reporters with a short speech. He did not take any questions, but did reiterate that the ball is in the NFL's court, and that he has been waiting for three years now for a call.
His full statement:
"Let me start by saying, I appreciate y'all coming out. That means a lot to me. Our biggest thing with everything today is making sure we had transparency with what went on. We weren't getting that elsewhere, so we came out here.
"It's important that y'all are here. Y'all been attacked for the last three years, you continue to be attacked. We appreciate what y'all do, we appreciate you being here today, we appreciate the work you do for the people in telling the truth. That's what we want in everything.
"I've been ready for three years. I've been denied for three years. We all know why I came out here today and showed it in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide.
"So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running, stop running from the truth, stop running from the people. Around here, we're ready to play, we're ready to go anywhere, my agent Jeff Nalley is ready to talk to any team. I'll interview with any team at any time.
"I've been ready. I'm staying ready. And I'll continue to be ready. To all the people that came out today to support, I appreciate y'all, I love y'all. To the people that aren't here, I'm thinking of you, I appreciate you supporting from where you are. We'll continue to give you updates as we hear. We'll be waiting to hear from Roger Goodell, the NFL, 32 teams. We'll let you know if we hear from them.
"The ball's in their court. We're ready to go."
The preamble to the workout
Less than an hour before Kaepernick was scheduled to take the field in front of NFL scouts in Atlanta, his camp decided to move the workout to a high school an hour away due to disagreements with the NFL.
The NFL had previously declined to allow any media or cameras into the workout, but Kaepernick's camp said they wanted transparency. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports that Kaepernick's camp had issues with the NFL's initial plan, including: problems with the type of waiver the NFL requested, the NFL's alleged refusal to allow Kaepernick's camp to tape the workout and the NFL's alleged refusal to allow the media to record the session. An official statement was released from representatives Ben Meiselas and Jeff Nalley on behalf of Kaepernick explained their decision.
While Kaepernick was stretching on the field at the new location, the NFLKaepernick did not appear for his workout. The league said 25 teams were present for the scheduled workout, and that they had already made several exceptions for Kaepernick's camp. Finally, the league also mentioned that Kaepernick's decision on Saturday had no effect on his status in the league. He remains an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any club.
Breaking down the teams present
The Lions are "willing to turn over any rock to find players who can help," per MLive.com's Kyle Meinke. It's unclear if they extended more than a passing glance, however. Longtime starter Matthew Stafford is banged up, but he's also having an admirable season and is signed through 2022. Backup Jeff Driskel, meanwhile, nearly led a surprise victory in place of Stafford on Sunday and has fared OK in emergency starts before.
The Chiefs of course possess the reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, but they did get a quick glance at what like could be like without him. Mahomes missed a couple of games due to a dislocated kneecap, which forced Andy Reid to play 35-year-old Matt Moore. He went 1-1 as the starter, but ensuring you have a capable backup quarterback is always a good idea.
The Jets are already set with their young franchise quarterback, but they could be in the business of looking to upgrade their backup. The Jets fell apart when Sam Darnold missed time earlier this year due to mono. Luke Falk, David Fales and Trevor Siemian all got chances to prove their worth, and all three disappointed.
The Eagles are all in on Carson Wentz, but he needs to be able to prove that he can stay healthy. Nick Foles is no longer there to bail him out, so having a veteran behind your starter who can step in if need be is smart.
The 49ers attending was surprising, considering Kaepernick was the one who opted out of his contract with the team back in 2017, and the 49ers are doing pretty well without him. The 8-1 49ers appear to be a Super Bowl contender, as they possess one of the best defenses and rushing attacks in the league. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't performed like a Pro Bowler, but you can't argue with his record as a starter.
The Titans were also in attendance, and as Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill will be free agents this offseason, who knows if the Titans will want to stick with either of them. It's very possible the Titans will be searching for a new starting quarterback this offseason, and they could elect to draft a signal caller, or sign Kaepernick if they like what they saw in Saturday's workout and want a veteran in the building.
The Redskins aren't exactly in dire need of a veteran QB at the moment, considering first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins was just declared the team's starter for the remainder of 2019 and both Case Keenum and Colt McCoy occupy their bench. And that's not even mentioning former starter Alex Smith, who hasn't played since suffering a severe leg injury in November 2018 but is set to earn $21.4 million in 2020 and technically remains under contract through 2022.