There are two phone calls Washington needs to make by Sunday night. The first should go to Alex Smith’s doctor to check in on the health of their quarterback, who broke his tibia and fibula against the Texans. The second should go to the representatives of Colin Kaepernick.
At 6–4 and in an NFC East where nine wins could very well get a team into the playoffs, Washington needs to go after the best available free-agent quarterback. The trade deadline has passed and it’s unreasonable to assume the team can win with Colt McCoy starting for the remainder of the season. There is but one option left.
Yes, Kaepernick is suing the NFL, and for the layman that would be enough to deny him entry back into the league. But Eric Reid is also actively suing the league and he’s gainfully employed by the Panthers.
McCoy is 7–18 all-time as a starter with 27 touchdowns and 23 interceptions to his name. He’s served as a capable backup for three teams since he lost his starting job in Cleveland six years ago and he played well enough to get Washington back into the game against Houston, but that’s his upper limit.
Kaepernick is 28–30 all-time as a starter (including going 1-10 on that terrible 2016 Niners squad) with 72 touchdowns to 30 picks. When we last saw him in 2016, he was throwing an interception on just 1.2% of his throws despite the entire team being abysmal. Say what you will about his skillset—and it’s long been strange how his ability to both run and pass has been used against him—but there is no objective football reason why he’s not playing in the NFL.
Then consider that the Lions just had Nathan Peterman in for a workout. The same Nathan Peterman who, statistically speaking, may be the worst starting quarterback in NFL history. The same Nathan Peterman who we all eventually started feeling sorry for before Buffalo mercifully took him behind the shed and sent him to the quarterback farm up the road.
Yes, Kaepernick would have to come in and learn the offense. In fact, the team would have to adjust to Kaepernick, too, and that’s a difficult thing to ask of offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh around Thanksgiving. But that would be required of any quarterback (to varying degrees) coming into this situation, from Kaepernick to Peterman.
But there are three issues that stand in the way of this union that cannot be avoided. Reid, Kaepernick’s good friend, has confirmed multiple times this fall that Kap wants to play football. But one would imagine Kaepernick would have an issue playing for a team whose nickname is considered by some to be a racial slur against a marginalized ethnic group. That may seem like a minor inconvenience to some, but Kaepernick clearly holds tightly to his values, whether you agree with him wanting equal rights for all or not. It’s reasonable to ask how comfortable he would be playing for Washington’s football team.
Secondly, this wouldn’t be a decision left up to only Bruce Allen and Doug Williams like the signing of Adrian Peterson in August was—team owner Dan Snyder must also sign off on the deal all the way at the top. Recall that Snyder was reportedly the one in that infamous owners-players meeting last year who sputtered out erroneously that “96% of Americans are for guys standing” for the national anthem, according to ESPN.
And that rolls into the third and final issue. The issue that would be an issue anywhere but would especially be an issue in the nation’s capital. President Donald Trump would make a Kaepernick signing a nightmare for D.C.’s team, which is owned by a man who gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural campaign.
The tweets! Oh lordy, the tweets! The 5:30 a.m. call-ins to Fox and Friends to complain about the district’s newest resident. Two Make America Great Again rallies are scheduled for Nov. 26 in Mississippi. You thought the “sons of bitches” comment was something? Watch how he demonizes a man looking to secure equal protection under the law for black and brown people.
Washington likely won’t do this and we all know why. Just don’t think for a minute that when Washington passes on Kaepernick, that it’s in the best interest of the football team.