The return of Kaepernick?

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, previously famous more for the amount of time he spent on his knees than the touchdowns he threw, might be on his way to a new contract with one of the league’s franchises. It’s tough to imagine why else all 32 teams were invited to watch him work out in a private session this weekend. The unusual nature of this showcase is made all the more curious by the fact that Kaepernick wasn’t the one to pitch the idea. Apparently the league came up with this idea on its own and pitched it to his agent “out of the blue.” (Associated Press)

Colin Kaepernick plans to audition for NFL teams on Saturday in a private workout arranged by the league to be held in Atlanta.

The exiled former Pro Bowl quarterback posted on Twitter: “I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”

The NFL hasn’t confirmed Kaepernick’s workout details.

This story is coming entirely from anonymous sources, but it sounds legitimate. The NFL isn’t commenting publicly, but if this wasn’t real they could have denied it easily enough. For his part, Kaepernick seems to be pleased and ready to put on a show.

Of course, inviting all 32 teams doesn’t mean that they’re all going to show up. We’re just past the midpoint of the season and Saturday is when most of them will be locked up in last-minute preparations for Sunday’s games. (Of course, they all have scouts that could be dispatched for the event.) Then again, a lot of teams have lost their starting quarterbacks to injuries this season and not all of the backups are turning in top notch performances. (The Giants, Steelers, Panthers and Jaguars come to mind.)

I can’t get over the strange way this workout came to be, however. It’s highly unusual for the league to step in and help show around a prospective player, to say the least. Normally, if any of the teams were in the market to pick up a player they would contact the guy’s agent directly and set something up. In this case, the home office is just sending out blanket invitations to everyone, including teams with healthy starters who may have zero interest in picking him up.

Does that mean that there’s been a shift of policy in the Commissioner’s office regarding kneeling and other displays on the field? Or has Kaepernick’s pending legal action put some pressure on them to the point where they want the whole mess to go away?

It doesn’t sound like the league is just throwing in the towel and offering Kaepernick anything he wants on a silver platter. The report indicates that the offer was made with only a two hour window for Kaepernick to decide if he would show up. He requested (through his agent) to do it on Tuesday or possibly a later week, but that request was shot down. This was reportedly pitched as a take it or leave it opportunity.

Despite his claims of being “in shape and ready,” Kaepernick hasn’t suited up for a game in several years. He just turned 32 a couple of weeks ago, which isn’t “too old” to play by any means, but he’s also no spring chicken anymore in terms of typical NFL careers. I’ve repeatedly said that he was probably playing well enough in his last season to qualify for a spot on a team, but perhaps not good enough for any of them to feel it was worth all the baggage and negative media attention that would follow if they picked him up. Perhaps conditions on the ground have changed.

We should really be getting some sort of explanation from Roger Goodell about this, or at least a confirmation of how it came about. But it would be weird to see Kaepernick showing back up in uniform now, just when the league looked like it was putting the entire protest debacle in their rearview mirror.