Collusion suit reportedly shows that multiple teams saw Kaepernick as starting-caliber QB

Colin Kaepernick is a free agent despite a five-year run that demonstrated his ability to play quarterback in the NFL at a level comparable to other starting quarterbacks. It turns out, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, multiple teams around the league agree that Kaepernick is worthy of holding a starting spot.

On Monday, PFT reported that the process initiated by Kaepernick's collusion suit against the league has shown that multiple teams viewed Kaepernick as a starting-caliber quarterback. However, as we all certainly know by now, Kaepernick remains a free agent after being forced to sit out the entire 2017 season in the aftermath of his decision to protest racial injustice by refusing to stand up during the national anthem -- a protest that took place throughout the 2016 season and was continued on without him during the 2017 season.

Florio reports:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, internal franchise documents generated as part of the free-agency evaluation process and testimony from witnesses harvested via depositions in the collusion litigation has established that teams viewed Kaepernick as being good enough not simply to be employed by an NFL team, but to be a starting quarterback for an NFL team.

But that alone doesn't mean Kaepernick's grievance is over. As Florio went on to write, "the deeper question becomes whether Kaepernick and his lawyers can prove coordination among the teams and/or through the league office in connection with the decision to steer clear of Kaepernick based on his role at the forefront of protests that occurred during the national anthem." That part still remains to be seen.

Looking for a hot new podcast that's your home for all things NFL? Look no further. The Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson has you covered every weekday morning with new episodes around 30 minutes each. Subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play.

For now, let's back up to the nugget copied and pasted above -- the part about Kaepernick being good enough to start in the NFL. The numbers certainly back it up. 

Since the 2012 season, when Kaepernick wrestled the 49ers' starting job away from Alex Smith, Kaepernick ranks 27th in touchdown (passing) percentage, sixth in interception percentage, 36th in completion percentage, 19th in yards per attempt, and 19th in passer rating among quarterbacks with at least 16 starts under their belt. Not to mention that Kaepernick ranks third in rushing yards and sixth in rushing touchdowns among all quarterbacks in that span even though he sat out an entire season. In his most-recent season as a starter in 2016 -- you know, the season most critics point to as evidence of his demise as a quarterback -- he compiled a 16-4 touchdown-interception ratio and posted a 90.7 passer rating on an atrocious 49ers team.

Kaepernick might not be a great NFL quarterback. But in a 32-team league lacking 32 great quarterbacks, he's good enough to start, which is partly why his absence from the league has turned into a story of this magnitude. It's not often a quarterback of Kaepernick's ability remains unsigned for more than a year.

Kaepernick filed the collusion grievance back in mid-October when it became clear to everyone, really, that nobody was going to sign him. Since then, he's made good on his promise to donate $1 million to various charities. This offseason, the Seahawks showed some interest in Kaepernick, but they've yet to make a move for him. Meanwhile, his former teammate, safety Eric Reid, who also remains unsigned after participating in the protests, filed his own collusion grievance earlier this month. 

You can read Pro Football Talk's full report here.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

Our Latest Stories