Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has a Super Bowl appearance on his resume and had a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2016, yet he's received little attention on the free-agent market. NFL owners and general managers are reportedly concerned over Kaepernick's intensely polarizing protests of the national anthem last season, though Kaepernick has stated he would not kneel during the anthem next season.
Over the weekend, director Spike Lee wrote on Instagram that NFL teams' lack of interest in Kaepernick "stinks to the high heavens," ripping the "No Fun League."
Shannon Sharpe, Cris Carter and Skip Bayless reacted to Kaepernick's situation on Monday's episode of Undisputed, and Sharpe said he believes NFL owners are refusing to sign Kaepernick to send a message to other players.
Spike Lee: Kaepernick still being a free agent smells 'fishy'
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Mike Glennon got $15 million, but Kaepernick's unemployed?
“To a certain extent I do believe that there are certain teams that no matter what his resume would read, they don’t want him on their team for the stance that he’s taken.
Now, there’s another [group] of general managers that say ‘he can’t play.’ Maybe some believe that he’s asking for too much money to be a backup. But how does Mike Glennon get $15 million with his resume? How does Brian Hoyer get signed one day into free agency with his resume?
Chase Daniel is going around -- he was the highest-paid backup last year at $7 million -- he’s going around to teams with his resume. They made him the highest-paid backup in NFL history paying him $7 million dollars a year, he says ‘I don’t want to sit on the bench here! Trade me or release me.’"
Dale ZanineDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
“Now everybody’s clamoring for Tony Romo or Jay Cutler. Colin Kaepernick, he’s been to a Super Bowl. The quarterbacks I’ve mentioned, how many have been to a Super Bowl?
Colin Kaepernick has been to an NFC Championship game. Jay Cutler went to a championship game, played 15 seconds, had a cup of coffee and then he was riding the bike, getting ready for the Tour de France.
My thing is this, and I read Mike Freeman’s article where he said one general manager said there’s a lot of GMs and possibly owners [who] hate Colin Kaepernick for what he did. You hate Colin Kaepernick for what he did, but do you hate why he did it? The cause that led him to do it?
It’s like I’m being upset at a man for being sick, but I’m not mad at the disease or ailment that caused his sickness. Now Colin Kaepernick took a million dollars out of his own pocket to give to a cause that he felt would help his cause. He and his foundation got Turkish Airlines to donate a 747, a jumbo jet. They’re going to deliver 60,000 pounds of food and water for a famine that’s going on in Somalia. But you hate what he’s done?”
Caylor ArnoldCaylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Kaepernick has to accept that he may never play again
“But Colin Kaepernick knew this was going to be the case, because I believe that protests should be uncomfortable. It should shock the very conscience of the people you’re trying to get in touch with.
By doing that, you’re also saying that ‘I’m willing to accept any ramifications [or] backlash that comes with my protest.’ Muhammad Ali said ‘I’m willing to give up three years of my prime fighting career because I’m so opposed to the Vietnam war, I’ll take anything that comes along with it.’ So, Colin Kaepernick, although I empathize with your position and I understand it is frustrating, you should be willing to accept that you might not ever play again. Because when you have a protest, if you’re not willing to lose something financially, or your life, why are you protesting to begin with?”
Mike DinovoMike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: Executives aren't sure what type of player Kaepernick is
“It’s hard to compare Kaepernick with the other quarterbacks, because right now you have to say ‘on this day, March 20th, 2017… what kind of quarterback is he?’
If I do sign him, what am I getting? You have to make the distinction [if] he’s a starter or if he’s a backup. And then the third thing that I would bring into question… why did he void his contract? Now, I’ve voided some contracts before, but I also had somewhere to go. I had something to do. So I don’t know what kind of foresight that he had that he decides to void his contract.
There’s only 32 of these jobs if you’re a starter. If you’re a backup, there’s 64 more of them. Now are there 90 quarterbacks in the world better than Kaepernick? Probably not.
But… the Super Bowl. When Kaep can’t hit the fade to Crabtree… that was kind of his arc hitting his peak. And since then, he’s been in a steady decline.”
USA TODAY SportsRobert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: There are a number of reasons teams are wary unrelated to his protests
Shannon Sharpe: “He went to a championship game the next year.”
Cris Carter: “The team went to the championship game… it’s a team sport based on individuals. Now Kaep, he didn’t think about his team when he started protesting. So for me, as an athlete, don’t forget the stage that this sport puts you on.So make sure that you’re performing and taking care of your body, because the number one thing for Kaep shouldn’t be public awareness. The number one thing, for him, should be ‘how can I take care of my body?’
He had a serious injury last season. His body has not recovered physically. He hasn’t developed as a passer. So Spike Lee, he might have a point, but there’s also a point to ‘is this guy a credible backup?’
Is he going to run the ball, is he going to be a pocket passer? So there’s so many things I don’t know about Kaep.
But like [Shannon] said, he has to ask himself the question: ‘Is this going to be worth it in the long haul?’ And right now, he’s probably regretting some of the things that have happened and how he’s been judged.”
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: Kaepernick has hurt himself by not developing his game
“For me the biggest thing is he’s hurt himself by physically not developing his body. Because even if he was just a runner, if he was just a pure runner. Just an athlete playing quarterback. He’d be able to get a job now.
But he’s not the athlete he was three years ago, his body’s not the same weight, he doesn’t have the same muscle mass, and his throwing motion has always been unpredictable. And he was never going to be a very accurate passer.
So those are the things that I think have hurt Kaepernick [along] with the protest. And the protest is real, and I do believe that owners will not sign him [because of it]. And they have done that for years. But this is not only because of the protest. In talking to some of the other great African American quarterbacks, it’s hard for an African American quarterback to be a backup in the NFL. They won’t hold onto you like those other guys you mentioned. Even if you are a starter, even if you do have success, they won’t give you the same patience as a backup.”
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Owners are sending a message to players across the league
“What the owners are doing is not about Colin Kaepernick. Sometimes the punishment is not about the guy that committed the crime. It’s about those that might, in the future, do such acts.
We’re sending a message: ‘OK, you can do it. Freedom, we’re in America.”
Skip Bayless: “I hate that you’re equating that to a crime…”
Shannon Sharpe: “I’m just saying, a lot of times the punishment for a crime is to deter others from doing such acts.”
Neville E. GuardNeville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Skip Bayless: Kaepernick's protest was brilliant, but costly
“My gut feeling is Colin Kaepernick is paying a price for what I thought was an extremely impactful protest. He made people eye-openingly uncomfortable, to your point. And in the end I love what he did, because I thought it was positively polarizing - but a price was going to have to be paid, and I think he paid a big one.
Now too many owners and GMs are going to say ‘well will he start back up again? Will it become a distraction in my locker room?’ Because the last distraction you want in your locker room is from the quarterback.”
Shannon Sharpe: Kaepernick was clearly good enough in 2016 to still have a job
“Look, maybe you have to tailor the offense a little bit to Kaep, but last year he had the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in 49ers history. He tied for sixth [in the NFL] in touchdown-to-interception ratio last year.
Let me tell you the quarterbacks that were in front of him, you might of heard of them. One of them won the Super Bowl. You ever heard of that guy? Tom Brady.
[Another] guy was Dak Prescott, rookie of the year. Aaron Rodgers. Matt Ryan, MVP, and Derek Carr.
Those were the five quarterbacks that had a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Colin Kaepernick. And he can’t find a job? But I’m supposed to believe it’s because he can’t play, he can’t learn, and he’s injured?”