The saga between Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys came to an end Tuesday when it was reported that the soon to be 37-year-old quarterback would be retiring to pursue a career in broadcasting. Romo’s announcement puts an end to one of the NFL’s biggest offseason controversies, and now the focus can return to the league’s other great conundrum.
Is Colin Kaepernick going to get a job?
With Romo’s departure, Kaepernick should be high on the list of every NFL team searching for a veteran quarterback looking to help their playoff hopes. With the draft looming, teams like the Texans, Bears, Browns, Broncos and Jets are going to be under pressure to find a steady arm under center. Why not Kaepernick? Every team is trying to win right?
Most detractors will say one or both of the following: He’s a distraction or he’s a bad quarterback.
Saying Kaepernick is a distraction is based largely on opinion. You could say his decision to kneel for the national anthem was detrimental to the team.
If that is so, I would hope you’d note that Kaepernick’s teammates gave him the Len Eshmont Award at the end of the season. That’s an award the 49ers bestow on the player who exemplifies inspirational and courageous play.
We’ve learned through this process that a “distraction” is relative. Greg Hardy, or Michael Floyd, or Adrian Peterson – players who have abused women, been convicted of extreme DUI, and plead no contest to reckless assault of his son – were not distractions. It would seem that behavior is acceptable, just don’t appear unpatriotic.
Kaepernick chose to kneel during the most politically divisive time in recent history. The country was completely divided. His message was distracted and unclear at the beginning of his protest, and as with any human, he made mistakes through the course of his message.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t agree with his decision to wear the police pig socks or a Castro T-shirt. But that doesn’t change his right to protest the killing of unarmed black men and women at the hands of police officers. He also took his platform and put it to use by donating $1 million to charitable causes, including the Black Youth Project 100 and Mothers Against Police Brutality. He continued his outreach by working with Turkish Airlines to deliver a 60-ton plane full of food and water to famine stricken Somalia.
It’s likely that you will not be swayed to change your opinion either way. But the idea that Kaepernick is not capable of playing quarterback in the NFL is pretty easily proven wrong.
Kaepernick has been to a Super Bowl and two NFC Conference Championship games. That’s one Super Bowl and two conference championship games more than Tony Romo and many others, but I digress.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Despite having a lackluster completion percentage, Kaepernick managed to throw 16 touchdowns against four interceptions in 2016. Here is a brief list of quarterbacks who did not throw 16 touchdowns in 2016: Alex Smith, Brock Osweiller, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Jared Goff, Case Keenum, and every starting quarterback of the Browns.
The argument has never been whether Kaepernick is one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s not in the top 10 either. But when you consider the alternatives teams are considering, Kaepernick’s omission begins to look ridiculous.
Consider that Mike Glennon signed with the Bears for $15 million per season on March 10.
Glennon spent last season backing up Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay. In his lone full season as a starter in 2013, he threw 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Bucs went 4-9 that year with Glennon under center. Which is, of course, why Jameis ended up in Tampa to begin with. There is no sensible reality in which Glennon is worth $15 million and Kaepernick is out of a job.
To be sure, Kaepernick has not been able to capture the magic we saw from 2012-14. But his regression has been wildly overblown. Maybe a team will sign Kaepernick, maybe they won’t. But it will be interesting to see what teams consider a “distraction” moving forward. Because the facts tell you, it’s not all about the numbers.