Despite the presence of three quarterbacks on the 90-man roster, the Los Angeles Chargers never officially closed the door on adding another option through free agency. According to a new report by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the team could add former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Colin Kaepernick.
Appearing on a Saturday edition of SportsCenter, Fowler mentioned several teams in need of depth behind center that could look into Kaepernick, including the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington. Fowler also discussed the Chargers as a possibility.
"And then the Los Angeles Chargers because they have Justin Herbert, the rookie, if they want to give him a true redshirt year they could roll with Tyrod Taylor, an athletic quarterback, with Kaepernick right behind him," Fowler said, via Bleacher Report.
Unlike the other clubs mentioned, the Chargers do not currently lack depth at quarterback. Veteran Tyrod Taylor has the inside track to open the 2020 season as the starter with first-round pick Justin Herbert expected to push him for playing time throughout the year. Meanwhile, 2019 fifth-round pick Easton Stick remains in the picture. Head coach Anthony Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco have each gone out of their way to praise Stick, suggesting he remains in Los Angeles' plans. That would leave little room for a veteran like Kaepernick, as teams rarely carry four quarterbacks on a regular-season roster.
Even so, the Chargers have some indirect connections to Kaepernick. For the majority of his tenure with the 49ers, Kaepernick played under offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Roman would later join the Buffalo Bills to serve in the same capacity. That coaching staff also featured Lynn, who likewise favors mobile signal-callers in his offenses. Whether that connection to Kaepernick will lead to anything concrete remains to be seen, however.
Kaepernick, who hasn't appeared in a game since 2016, became a popular yet divisive figure in sports and American politics after kickstarting a player-led protest over police brutality. Those protests spread throughout the league even after Kaepernick's last appearance on an NFL field, drawing attention from fans, media, and even the President of the United States. The lack of interest in Kaepernick's services following his departure from the 49ers resulted in the quarterback filing a collusion lawsuit against the league. The two sides reached a settlement for undisclosed terms in 2019.
Still, the settlement did not pave the way for Kaepernick to return to the NFL. Outside of a league-organized workout late last year, the quarterback has not received significant interest from teams.
However, following the unlawful killing of George Floyd, an African American, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, new protests have sprung up across the country. That outrage reflects the angst Kaepernick hoped to communicate through his protests in 2016. In just the past two weeks, the NFL has made a surprising about-face regarding protests, with commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledging past mistakes silencing players. That new perspective could perhaps open the door for Kaepernick to return to football.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH