Drew Brees says Colin Kaepernick should be in NFL, Jim Harbaugh says he's a starter

Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent and it's unclear when or if he'll get another opportunity to play in the NFL. Depending on who you ask, Kaepernick's current situation results from his decision to kneel during the national anthem last season, his way of protesting social injustice. Or, more simply, it's because Kaepernick isn't the player he once was.

On Monday, Drew Brees, during an appearance with CBS Sports Radio's "Tiki and Tierney Show," was asked if Kaepernick had been black-balled by the league.  "It's hard to know what's going on behind the scenes," the Saints quarterback said. "Unless you're somebody on the inner circle, I don't think you would really know exactly what's going on. Has he received offers from other people? I don't know. Has he turned down opportunities? I don't know. So I think for most people, you sit back and say, 'Oh, he hasn't been chosen by a team, and this is why.' It's easy to sit back and speculate that, but do any of us really know if he's been extended an offer or if he's turned down offers? I certainly don't."

And Brees was clear about whether Kaepernick should be in the NFL.

"Well, yeah, if he can help the team win, then why not? I guess you could call him a controversial figure, just because there's obviously a lot to talk about when somebody brings up his name," he said. "I think immediately people want to point to the fact that he knelt during the national anthem or didn't recognize it that that's the reason he's not being signed to a team right now. I'm not sure about that.

"I think at the end of the day, there's been a lot of players over the last five years, 10 years, that you could say, OK, there was some type of controversy surrounding that player, and yet, they still were on a team. There was somebody out there that felt like this person can help us win football games, and so I'm going to sign this player. So again, the scenarios and the circumstances are different for every team."

Brees is exactly right; if Kaepernick were coming off the season that, say, Tom Brady had -- and wasn't the guy who split time with Blaine Gabbert on a two-win team -- he'd be gainfully employed. Put another way: for us, the primary reason Kaepernick is still looking for work has everything to do with the state of his game and little to do with how or what he chooses to protest.

Meanwhile, the man who got the most out of Kaepernick in San Francisco, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh who is now the coach at the University of Michigan, said Monday that not only does he consider Kaepernick a starting NFL quarterback, he expects him to win championships.

"I do believe that [he's an NFL starter], yes," Harbaugh told "The Rich Eisen Show" on Monday, via NFL.com. "He's still in his 20s and has been very successful at the NFL level as a starting quarterback. My record is well-documented that I think he will win championships before his career is finished."

Kaepernick, who played for the 49ers from 2011-2016, began last season on the bench behind Gabbert, but was reinserted into the starting lineup in mid-October. When it was over, he had started 11 games, 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.

The Seahawks looked to be Kaepernick's best chance at finding an NFL home but last week the team instead decided to sign Austin Davis to serve as Russell Wilson's backup.

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

Our Latest Stories