The NFL is making Kaepernick's collusion case for him

The rationale offered by those who pass on Kaepernick has remained the same since the summer: He would have too much to learn, in too little time. “Certainly he’s good enough to be a backup,” an unnamed executive told Sports Illustrated in August. “But we have a good No. 2, a guy that fits our system that we have familiarity with.” The Texans coach Bill O’Brien, when asked about Kaepernick after Watson’s injury, suggested that his time away might be somehow self-perpetuating. “Colin Kaepernick is a good football player,” O’Brien said, before adding in a tone of concern that he “hasn’t played football in a while.”

While Kaepernick’s potential employers seem curiously attuned to perceived flaws, many of his former colleagues see wasted value. “I think he should be on a roster right now,” Rodgers said before the season. “I think because of his protests, he’s not.” Tom Brady, possibly the NFL’s most distinguished dispenser of evasive cliché, said in September, “He accomplished a lot in the pros, as a player, and he’s certainly qualified.” And the Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman has vouched for Kaepernick with specifics. “Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, or whoever is playing for the Jets right now—whoever is starting for the Jets is terrible—have jobs,” he said in August. “You’re telling me fans would rather you lose and put a worse player out there because a guy took a stand?”