With the debut of the American Alliance of Football this year, opportunities opened up for a lot of players and coaches who weren’t finding work in the NFL. One question that couldn’t be avoided on week one was the fate of perennial gridiron problem child Colin Kaepernick. With as much talent as he’s regularly credited for having by his supporters, you’d think he would be the hottest property on the block, wouldn’t you? Yet none of the teams signed him.
Why? Were they afraid he would start kneeling during the National Anthem again and embroil the new league in controversy before it had even gotten out of the starting gate? I suppose that might have been on some of their minds, but the official reason was far more basic. The AAF is an NFL “starter league” and their budget for player salaries is limited. Kaepernick was interested in playing, but only if he got an offer well into eight figures. They couldn’t pay that so Kaepernick wanted nothing to do with them. So much for it being all about the love of the game, I suppose. (NBC Sports)
Alliance of American Football co-founder Bill Polian said Thursday that the startup league had reached out to Colin Kaepernick. Now, comes word from Barry Wilner of the Associated Press that the former 49ers quarterback asked for $20 million to consider playing…
Kaepernick would have provided a boost to the league, but his contract demand doesn’t fit with the financial structure of the league. All players get the same three-year, non-guaranteed contracts worth $250,000.
Kaepernick is holding out hope of a return to the NFL, which has 16 quarterbacks making an average of at least $20 million per season, according to overthecap.com. He has not played since 2016 and has a collusion grievance against the NFL.
The other quarterbacks playing in the AAF have three-year deals for a quarter million dollars. Granted, that’s nowhere near what the top NFL players make, but it still beats digging ditches. Apparently, Kaepernick decided that half a loaf isn’t actually better than none.
He can take some comfort about that lost income from the “collusion” case mentioned in the linked article, however. In addition to the big payday he received from Nike, the NFL has now settled Kaepernick’s grievance suit without going to court or formal arbitration. The details are being kept from the public, but some inside observers are pretty sure that the payment was somewhere north of sixty million dollars. (NY Post)
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman said that NFL team officials are speculating Kaepernick’s payout landed between $60-80 million.
Considering Kaepernick recently signed a major endorsement deal with Nike, it would seem doubtful he would need the money, meaning the NFL didn’t want to risk going to trial over the assertion he was being blackballed from the league. He filed a grievance in October of 2017 alleging collusion, based on the collective bargaining agreement, against owners for not signing him to an NFL contract. Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners were set to be deposed and asked to give over their cellphone records and emails for the case, ESPN previously reported.
This is total horse hockey. The NFL caved and paid off Kaepernick to avoid more negative PR, plain and simple.
And the reality of Kaepernick’s “collusion” complaint is laughable. Allow me to repeat an unwritten rule of the NFL that everyone covering this story should have been aware of by now. The amount of crap that a franchise will put up with from their quarterback is directly proportional to their passer rating. If your number is over 100 you have nothing to worry about. If it drops below 60 you should really get moving on learning to code. If you’re in that middle area in between, you probably need to mind your Ps and Qs in terms of embarrassing your team or the league.
If Kaepernick had been putting up numbers like Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger, a team would have found an excuse to keep him on the field even if he was not only kneeling during the National Anthem but wearing a “God Hates America” t-shirt at the post-game presser. The entire “collusion” premise seems far-fetched because the league doesn’t control who the teams hire or don’t hire. (Assuming they meet the basic qualifications and don’t break the rules.) No individual team or group of owners could stop any other team from signing him if they really wanted to.
It’s tough to say if this is the end of the Kaepernick saga once and for all. He should definitely have enough money to retire if he wishes. Plus, he’s 31 years old now and hasn’t even suited up for three years. That’s not beyond the “old age limit” for the NFL, but he’s definitely no spring chicken anymore. And his performance during his final season didn’t inspire a lot of optimism. Perhaps he can cash in that huge final check and sail off into the sunset. And maybe the rest of us can get back to watching football.