Despite likely being set to begin a season without a starting quarterback job for the first time since 2012, Colin Kaepernick has dominated the NFL news cycle this week. The nature of his return to the spotlight angered many front office executives.
The majority of the league’s decision-making personnel do not support the 49ers quarterback’s decision to sit for the national anthem in protest, according to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report.
A sampling of seven team executives revealed to Freeman they estimate 90-95% of NFL front offices shared their sentiments, which are not aligned with Kaepernick’s racially themed choice to sit during the anthem. Each of the surveyed septet believes the 49ers will release Kaepernick and he won’t play in the NFL again.
“I don’t want him anywhere near my team,” one front office executive told Freeman. “He’s a traitor.”
A GM also told Freeman he’d never seen a player hated by front office members as much as Kaepernick is now. Another executive told the writer he’d consider resigning from his post if his team’s owner wanted to sign the now-polarizing 28-year-old quarterback.
Sources close to Kaepernick expect the 49ers to release him, per Freeman. The 49ers, though, won’t be doing so because they don’t feel he can be effective anymore, as previously reported, but the anonymous executives believe San Francisco will instead cut the quarterback because of public pressure surrounding Kaepernick’s lightning-rod status. So, two key factors appear to be working against the dual-threat player.
It would be interesting if Kaepernick wants to continue playing but can’t when considering his standout past and the fact players with checkered legal pasts have been allowed to continue their careers. Freeman cites the Vikings moving on from longtime punter Chris Kluwe in 2013 around the same time he voiced his support for gay rights as a precedent for what could soon happen.
The NFL does not require players to stand for the anthem, but the league encourages the practice. The 49ers and Chip Kelly voiced support for Kaepernick’s rights last week when the controversy spawned. Kelly said the coaching staff remained in the process of deciding between he and Blaine Gabbert for the Week 1 starting role and that his controversial protest will not affect his standing on the team.
Kaepernick is due to make $11.9MM via fully guaranteed base salary this season. He signed the team-friendly, pay-as-you-go-structured deal in 2014 after he’d come off two strong seasons that ended with the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII and then in the 2013 NFC championship game. Kaepernick, though, has regressed from that high level that previously induced the Niners to trade Alex Smith to the Chiefs.
San Francisco benched Kaepernick last season before placing him on IR. During an offseason when he underwent three surgeries and lost weight as a result of being unable to train sufficiently, the 49ers and Broncos engaged in trade talks for the mercurial passer who’s led the 49ers to four playoff wins.
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