Colin Kaepernick is once again a headline topic for the NFL, and although he hasn't taken a snap since 2016, it's not been for lack of trying. Since his split from the San Francisco 49ers, he's made it clear time and again he'd like to return to the league, but to no avail. In recent seasons, there were teams with reported interest and although he visited with the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, the club opted to not sign him -- a decision Pete Carroll now says he regrets.
Apparently, that's a sentiment shared by Hue Jackson, who was head coach of the Cleveland Browns that season. In a recent interview with WKNR AM-850's "The Really Big Show," the 54-year-old offered up an unexpected confession about his stance on Kaepernick when the Browns had a chance to add him to the roster when Jackson was at the helm.
"I wanted him," Jackson said, via The News-Herald. "It just didn't work out. Obviously, those things do have to work from a finance, draft, whatever all that is."
Jackson went on to say it was out of his hands.
"That wasn't my decision," he said, before further detailing his seemingly longstanding interest in Kaepernick. "I've known Colin. When I was with the Raiders [in 2011], we were going to draft him when I was there. So, obviously he'd been a really good player in the league.
"He had tremendous success. He is a guy who has stood for something. I think everybody is seeing exactly where he was coming from. … I always thought Colin deserved an opportunity in this league, but he has to want to play.
"If he really wanted to play, I think he would have a chance again."
To that point, a recent report notes Kaepernick is in "great shape" and "more motivated than ever" to return to the NFL -- with notable players also lobbying for his comeback -- but the question on if a team will give him a chance remains the elephant in the room. Less qualified quarterbacks have obtained jobs as backups since 2016 (something Kaepernick has long said he's open to being), and his relationship with the league ultimately degraded to the point of a collusion lawsuit filed by Kaepernick against the NFL, with both sides eventually agreeing to settle out of court.
Given the current protests following the murder of George Floyd -- four officers of the Minneapolis Police Department have since been terminated and face charges of second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder -- along with Goodell's remorse for breezing past the topic of social injustice when Kaepernick's kneeling put it on center stage, many believe the NFL is ripe for his return.
Those who are wary of hollow words might find themselves pointing at Jackson though, who's tune in 2020 is an about-face from what he said about Kaepernick three years prior, much like Carroll's at the time. Jackson was asked specifically if the Browns had any interest in March 2017, at which point he stated Kaepernick hadn't been a point of conversation between he and the front office.
"We haven't really discussed Colin," Jackson said at the time, via Sporting News. "There's other players at this point that we've had a lot of conversations about to see if we can put them on our team. Not saying it won't come up later on. You have to exhaust everything.
"But at this point he hasn't come up."
There's now at least one team in 2020 who has interest in Kaepernick, per Carroll, but until interest evolves into an actual contract, he remains out of the league and hoping for a way back in.