Colin Kaepernick's collusion grievance against NFL centered on Trump's influence

The influence and power of President Donald Trump will be a central element in Colin Kaepernick's collusion grievance against the NFL, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, identifying the culture fostered by the leader of the free world as a factor in teams failing to extend a contract offer for work-out invitation to the former Super Bowl quarterback since he became a free agent in March.

Given the stipulations within the collective bargaining agreement about collusion, some have focused on the need to provide evidence of communications between owners and/or the league office to win damages. However, Kaepernick's case might focus on the tweets and other communications of the president, according to the source, noting numerous instances where Trump expressed his influence over owners in this manner.

Per the CBA language on collusion:

"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 ... "

In this instance, Kaepernick could argue, in addition to "express" collusion -- generally emails, text messages or written/oral arrangements among clubs or the league office -- that some or all NFL clubs/owners also had an "implied" agreement with the league and/or each other based on messages received from President Trump, which the president publicly discussed on Twitter and in speeches to restrict decision-making regarding signing Kaepernick.

Trump has Tweeted and commented about speaking to owners directly on matters of protesting players‎ and boasted of his sway over them when it comes to protesting players. He has mentioned ownership fear of drawing his wrath on social media and urged teams publicly to fire protesting players, referring to kneeling players as "sons of bitches" at a recent rally in Alabama.

Kaepernick's legal team could argue that has created a climate in which numerous owners have colluded to keep the quarterback from having an opportunity to gain employment in the NFL.

While much of this is public record via Tweets and Trump's remarks at rallies, the recording and transcripts of Trump's conversations with owners may provide evidence of the president's role in Kaepernick's inability to gain NFL employment despite throwing 16 touchdowns to four interceptions last season, his first back from several major surgeries.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was photographed with Trump aboard Air Force One on March 19, early in the NFL's free agency signing period, with the men flying back to Washington together; notes or details of their conversation could be of interest to Kaepernick's lawyers. The following day, addressing a gathering in Kentucky, Trump referred to "the San Francisco quarterback," and went on to say, "It was reported that NFL owners don't want to pick him (Kaepernick) up because they don't want to get a nasty Tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that?"

A few weeks ago Trump tweeted:

Last week Jones spoke to the media about his latest conversations with Trump regarding the ongoing controversy of players kneeling during the national anthem, emphasizing Trump's knowledge of the league's game-day manual guiding teams on pregame protocols.

In Week 4 of the NFL season, the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders suffered injuries to their starting quarterbacks and worked out a handful of journeymen quarterbacks in the ensuing days; the Titans signing Brandon Weeden, who had last played in 2015. Kaepernick's lawyers might argue Trump acted as an implied agent in this instance as neither team was responsive to Kaepernick's agent making clear Kaepernick's desire and eagerness to work out for any clubs.

The NFL was aware that Kaepernick was filing his formal grievance prior to the paperwork going out. Kaepernick did not file his grievance through the NFLPA, securing the esteemed firm of Geragos & Geragos to represent him, and it is customary for the union to assist outside legal teams in their pursuit of such claims, arbitrations, grievances and lawsuits against the NFL, its owners or its teams.

CBS Sports Insider

Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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