Colin Kaepernick has been an NFL free agent for more than three years now, and in that time, there haven't been very many NFL owners who have been willing to go on the record to talk about whether or not their team would be interested in signing him.
Although plenty of coaches have been asked about Kaepernick, very few of the league's 32 owners have really been put on the spot when it comes to his availability. However, that changed this week when Raiders owner Mark Davis was asked what his feelings were on the possibility of his team signing the free agent quarterback, and apparently, Davis would be completely on board with signing Kaepernick if that's what his coaching staff thinks is best for the team.
"Since 2017, I've told the coaches and general managers that if they want to hire Colin Kaepernick, they have my blessing," Davis told ESPN on Wednesday.
Although that's only a one-sentence answer, there's a lot to unpack here. First, Davis claims that he's been open to signing Kaepernick for the past three years (the former 49ers quarterback became a free agent after being forced to opt out of his contract in March 2017). At first glance, it might sound like Davis is trying to save face by insisting that he's always been open to adding Kaepernick, but there's definitely some evidence that he's telling the truth. Back in September 2018, Kaepernick's lawyer, Mark Geragos, hinted that the Raiders were one of two teams interested in signing the 32-year-old quarterback.
So why not make a move then?
As Davis noted, he gave his blessing to sign Kaepernick, but that doesn't mean he was going to force his front office to make the move if they didn't feel like it made sense for the team, and going into 2017, it probably didn't make much sense for the Raiders. For one, the Raiders went 12-4 and made the playoffs in 2016, a year where Derek Carr was in the MVP conversation until suffering a season-ending injury in December, so bringing in a starting-caliber quarterback like Kaepernick after a career year from Carr probably wouldn't have made much sense to the front office. Another possible issue is that Raiders coach Jack Del Rio made it clear in 2016 that he didn't want his players kneeling during the national anthem.
If the Raiders were going to sign Kaepernick, it probably would have made some sense to do it before the 2018 season. After watching Carr struggle in 2017, adding Kaepernick as the team's backup in 2018 would have been a smart move, but instead the team went with AJ McCarron, who was cut after just one season. The 2018 season was Gruden's first year with the team, and it's not known if he even though about adding Kaepernick before signing the former Alabama quarterback.
The Raiders were also in the market for a backup quarterback this offseason, but instead of Kaepernick, they went with Marcus Mariota. From a football perspective, the team chose a 2019 NFL starter over a quarterback who hasn't taken a snap in three years. Although the Raiders could surely justify that decision, the team could have brought Kaepernick in for a workout just to see where he's at, but didn't.
If Kaepernick is going to return to the NFL, this definitely seems like the year where it would happen. After weeks of protests focused around police brutality in America and around the world, teams around the league finally appear to understand why the quarterback knelt in protest during the national anthem in 2016. With the NFL now supporting that form of protest, teams should be more open to at least bringing him in for a workout.
Besides the Raiders, the Chargers also could be a possibility. Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said on Wednesday that Kaepernick is on the team's "workout list," which seems to mean that the Chargers would be interested in bringing Kaepernick in if something happens to one of the three quarterback who are already on their roster.
If you want to check out a list of eight potential landing spots that would make sense for Kaepernick, be sure to click here.