Colin Kaepernick

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

There are still plenty of impact free agents left on the board, including some big names. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile veterans that are still looking for work in advance of training camp: 

Kaepernick probably stands as the most talented quarterback left on the open market, but his ongoing collusion case against the NFL complicated matters. It seems unlikely that he’ll land anywhere between now and the start of the season, but friend and former teammate Eric Reid probably has a better chance of signing somewhere, despite being in a similar boat. Recently, the duo was spotted working out together in California.

It seems like just yesterday that Murray was the league’s most fearsome running back. Unfortunately, Murray’s age has caught up to him to some extent and he was overshadowed last year in Tennessee by the younger Derrick HenryThe Titans dropped Murray in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Recently, the Saints tried to include Murray in their cattle call for running backs, but he declined the invite.

Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. It’s possible that Murray and Peterson won’t sign unless a running back injury opens up an opportunity for them. Teams could also steer clear of Peterson altogether given his desire for a starring role despite his lack of star performance over the last two years.

Bryant is the biggest name on this list, but we shouldn’t expect to see him sign anywhere until July. There have been conflicting reports on his market, but the latest word indicates that he is receiving interest, despite concerns about his demeanor in the locker room.

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Extra Points: XFL, Luck, Kaepernick

This week, Vince McMahon’s XFL appointed Oliver Luck as its new commissioner and CEO.

The XFL will be a labor of love as I get to combine my experiences as a player and executive,” Luck told ESPN.com in an email. “I’m thrilled to have this unique opportunity to reimagine the game that has been a constant in my life for 40 years.”

Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, will relocate to Connecticut as he gears up for the league’s launch in 2020. That also means leaving behind his previous job with the NCAA, in which he oversaw eligibility requirements and academic affairs.

I always felt there was an opportunity for another pro league as long as it had the key ingredients, and I found all those ingredients present in the new XFL,” Luck said. “There was the leadership and vision from Vince [McMahon] who is a tremendous entrepreneur with a solid track record and there is a potential to have good quality football if it is well capitalized, which of course it is.”

Here’s more from around the world of football:

This Date In Transactions History: Colin Kaepernick

In the 2014 offseason, quarterback Colin Kaepernick had been coming off back-to-back seasons in which he led the 49ers to the postseason. That also included a trip to Super Bowl XLVII when they 49ers lost to the Ravens.

It’s fair to see why the 49ers saw Kaepernick as their quarterback of the future and decided to ink him to a six-year contract extension worth up to $126MM in total, $54MM in potential guarantees and $13MM in full guarantees.

The now-30-year-old would not lead the 49ers to the postseason again following the extension and started all 16 regular season games just once before opting out of his contract following the 2016 season. The 49ers had taken Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft out of Nevada.

Kaepernick has yet to suit up with an NFL team since appearing in 12 games and starting 11 with the 49ers in 2016. After Jim Tomsula took over for Jim Harbaugh as the 49ers’ head coach in 2015, Kaepernick was benched eight games into the season in favor of Blaine Gabbert.

Since his release and subsequent free agency, Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that owners from around the league colluded to keep him unsigned. The reported collusion stems from his protest of social inequalities in the United States, which included kneeling for the national anthem.

Between the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Kaepernick threw for 21 touchdowns and rushed for nine touchdowns while throwing just 11 interceptions. The team also went 17-6 in the regular season with him as a starter. From 2014-16, Kaepernick was unable to lead the team to a record better than 8-8, including 10 interceptions in 2014 alone.

The 49ers have appeared to find another “quarterback of the future” after signing Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year deal worth up to $137.5MM deal, which was the largest annual salary in NFL history at the time. The $90MM guaranteed in the first three years of his deal still stands as an NFL record.

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

The biggest names in this year’s free agent class such as Kirk Cousins, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, and Trumaine Johnson have long been spoken for, but plenty of notable players remain on the board here in June. With a hat tip to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter), here’s a look at some high-profile veterans who are still seeking work this summer: 

Of course, Kaepernick’s situation is more complicated than the rest. Lately, the only updates we’ve heard regarding Kaepernick have been tied to his pending collusion case against the NFL. Former teammate Reid is certainly closer to the NFL radar after an April meeting with the Bengals, but he also believes teams are shying away from him due to his participation in anthem protests. Reid filed a grievance of his own against the NFL in May and has been spotted working out with Kaepernick.

Unfortunately for Murray and Peterson, filing a grievance for age bias against running backs is not an option. The Titans kicked Murray to the curb in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the Lions, Seahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. Given Peterson’s reluctance to be on the lower end of a timeshare in New Orleans last year, one has to imagine that Peterson will not be a real consideration for teams unless a starter gets injured in camp. Murray could be a more attractive option for teams. Although he averaged just 3.6 yards per tote with the Titans last year, he contributed in the passing game with 39 receptions.

Bryant says he has no regrets about turning down a three-year, $21MM offer from the Ravens, but right now it looks like he blew his opportunity at a solid free agent deal. Reportedly, many teams are unwilling to consider him for even the league minimum, so it seems unlikely that he’ll find the lucrative one-year contract he’s seeking. On the plus side, his former employer says multiple teams have checked in on him.

Things have been eerily quiet for Maclin after he was displaced by the Ravens, though the Eagles and Cowboys considered him internally in the spring. We also haven’t heard a peep about Decker since his spring meetings with the Raiders and Ravens. Both players are roughly in the same boat – they were 1,000-yard receivers in 2015, but they are on the wrong side of 30 and haven’t done much on the field in the last two years. Still, both profile as low-risk/high-reward signings.

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NFC Notes: Bears, OBJ, Rodgers, Kaepernick

Bears wide receiver and 2015 first-round pick Kevin Whitecan’t be a lock to make the 53-man roster coming out of preseason,” according to the Chicago Tribune’s Bradd Biggs.

Briggs continues by saying, “White is guaranteed a little more than $2.69MM this season. While there is offset language in his contract, there’s no way another team would pay him that kind of money, so the Bears would be on the hook for at least a portion if they were to release him. It’s not enough money to say he’s locked into a spot.”

The sentiment is not a shocker. After the Bears overhauled their receiving corps with Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and rookie pass catcher Anthony Miller, the injury-prone wideout will have to make an impact on the field to assure his roster spot.

The second receiver taken in 2015, behind Amari Cooper, White boasted an impressive combination of size, speed and strength that projected the West Virginia product to be Chicago’s future No. 1 receiver. Instead, he has been ravaged by injuries that have limited him to just five games in three seasons. He flashed signs of progress in 2016 with back-to-back six-catch games, but he immediately suffered a high ankle sprain that resulted in a fracture and sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Briggs notes that he has made progress and all signs are pointing positive early at OTAs. “The coaches are saying the right things about him. They like the way he looks. They like his work ethic and approach.”

If White is able to produce at even a fraction of his potential in 2017, Mitch Trubisky will have plenty of weapons to operate with in his sophomore campaign.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Giants and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. could be nearing a contract showdown, writes Ralph Vacchiano of SportsNet New York. Once the Pro Bowl pass catcher is cleared to fully practice he could opt for a holdout since he has yet to publicly dismiss an earlier report that he “will not set foot on a field without a contract extension.” Though that option is not a certainty, Vacchiano notes Beckham’s leverage is rather strong, in that the Giants are in win-now mode with an aging quarterback who has struggled without his go-to receiver. Holdouts rarely go the way of the player, but we’ll see if Beckham tries to buck the trend.
  • When the Packers sit down at the negotiating table with Aaron Rodgers on an extension, one thing the quarterback will be looking for is a possible out on his deal, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (Twitter link). “Another aspect that I’m told is extremely important to [Rodgers] is player control — How much control can he have on his future,” Garafolo said. The All-Pro quarterback will almost assuredly become the highest-paid player in the league when he signs a deal, which seems like a slam dunk at this point, but his ability to have an out in the deal is one thing to keep an eye on. 
  • The attorney for former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid, Mark Geragos, told reporters, “I would stay tuned because this case is about to take a dramatic turn.” Asked about the claim, Geragos added, “somebody has decided they were to dime out the NFL for what they were doing.” This implies there being a witness who can contradict the NFL’s stance that each team decided neither player can help their roster. There is sure to be more to develop in this case in the coming days.

Extra Points: Anthem, Kaepernick, Manziel

The NFL’s new anthem policy has received a great deal of backlash, but another idea previously considered by owners also would have faced some opposition. Team owners considered a 15-yard penalty against teams that partake in anthem protests, but that move wouldn’t have necessarily gone over well with the league’s officials.

It would not be in my DNA to throw a flag on someone for their personal protest regardless of whether or not I agreed with them,” former ref Mike Pereira told Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, players are up in arms about the policy that was enacted on Wednesday. Klemko hears (Twitter link) that players who weren’t planning demonstrations for next season are now discussing ways to skirt the new rules “just to spite the NFL.”

More from around the football world:

  • President Donald Trump weighed in on the NFL’s new anthem policy shortly after it was announced. “You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem. You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country…the NFL owners did the right thing,” Trump said (Twitter link via FOX News). It remains to be seen whether Trump will continue to stir the pot on an issue that threatens the league’s bottom line and its relationship with players.
  • The NFL used a polling firm to gauge public opinion on Colin Kaepernick “four months into” his 2017 free agency, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears. The firm polled fans on other NFL-related topics – including domestic violence, gambling, player protests, and player safety – but Kaepernick was the only player singled out in the research for specific opinions. The development could have an impact on Kaepernick’s ongoing collusion case against the league.
  • Johnny Manziel is likely to serve as the backup quarterback for the CFL’s Tiger-Cats, coach June Jones says (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com). Barring something unforeseen, Jones expects to use former Oregon and Mississippi QB Jeremiah Masoli as his starter throughout the year. If that plan holds up, it would be a fairly significant barrier to Manziel’s planned NFL comeback. Then again, Manziel likely won’t be in the NFL conversation anytime soon after signing a binding two-year deal with Hamilton.

Patriots Notes: Kraft, Kaepernick, Brady, Gronk

Add Robert Kraft to the list of executives and coaches who have been deposed in the collusion grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick. TMZ reports that the Patriots owner gave his deposition to lawyers yesterday. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were deposed earlier this week, as was Broncos general manager John Elway.

We learned back in October that Kaepernick had planned a grievance against the NFL, claiming that teams conspired to keep him out of the league. The whole situation stems from the quarterback’s decision to kneel during the national anthem back in 2016. A five-year starter in San Francisco, the 30-year-old was unable to find a gig during the 2017 campaign.

While the Broncos and Seahawks had been connected to Kaepernick, the Patriots never showed any reported interest in the embattled quarterback. Of course, Kraft has enough clout around the NFL, so he could provide lawyers with valuable information. While Kaepernick was present for previous depositions, it’s uncertain whether he attend Kraft’s.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of New England…

  • Tom Brady has yet to attend the team’s voluntary OTAs, and ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes that his absence shouldn’t be cause for concern. Former Patriots players Matt Chatham and Rob Ninkovich said Brady’s decision to spend time with his family “isn’t a big deal,” although it might be notable if the quarterback misses the “third phase” of the workouts. As Reiss writes, this is the point of OTAs that Brady generally builds a rapport with his new wideouts. With three new receivers on the roster (including Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, and rookie Braxton Berrios), it might be telling if Brady also sits out this portion of OTAs.
  • The Patriots adjusted receiver Phillip Dorsett‘s contract earlier this week, but Reiss writes the move “shouldn’t have a trickle-down effect” on a Rob Gronkowski extension. The Patriots saved around $300K thanks to the new contract, and the renegotiation was more about Dorsett’s standing on the roster. The organization could have easily cut bait with the wideout, but the reduced salary means he can stick around and compete for a roster spot.
  • In case you missed it, the Patriots signed offensive lineman Jason King yesterday. This is the Purdue product’s third stint with the organization, and he was waived by New England only last week. To make room on the roster, the team waived wideout Chris Lacy. The Oklahoma State product had joined the team as an undrafted free agent earlier this month.

Broncos Notes: Kaepernick, Elway

On Wednesday morning, Broncos GM John Elway gave his deposition to lawyers in the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance case against the NF, as Mike Klis of 9NEWS tweets. As has been the case with most of the depositions thus far, Kaepernick was personally on hand.

As Klis notes, the Broncos were one of just a few teams who were keenly interested in Kaepernick in 2016 and, technically speaking, Elway may be the last executive who offered him a job. Elway tried to orchestrate a trade for Kaep with the 49ers after Peyton Manning‘s retirement, but Kaepernick declined to take a pay cut. Eventually, the Broncos moved on and selected Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 draft.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Broncos running back De’Angelo Henderson was briefly hospitalized with minor injuries over the weekend after he was an accidental victim of a high-speed police chase. “I don’t know if lucky is the word,” said Henderson (via Klis), whose car went airborne and flipped in the air. “Blessed. There’s just so many different words.’’ Henderson says he suffered a slightly sprained ankle and shoulder, but “nothing that’s going to keep (him) out for a significant time.”
  • Oregon running back Royce Freeman fell to the Broncos in the third round and some evaluators believe that his 947 carries in college played a role in his position on the board. Freeman, who saw seven running backs drafted before him, feels that he did not deserve a demerit for his odometer. “I feel like all of that durability and all of those carries just reflected my productivity throughout my four years at Oregon,” Freeman said (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold). “It is not often you get backs playing as many games or taking as many carries. I feel like the fact that I was able to do so proves I am a durable running back.”

Extra Points: Kaepernick, Raiders, Greg Little, Cardinals

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were deposed in the collusion grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick this week, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

Expanding on the subject, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recounts that the “Seahawks were planning to bring in the quarterback for a workout, but the team canceled the session when Kaepernick declined to commit to stand for the national anthem.” 

Despite the case, Carroll has not closed the door on the former 49ers quarterback joining the team. As Florio writes, however, “It would be awkward, to say the least, for Kaepernick to sign with Seattle after his lawyers questioned Schneider and Carroll under oath…”

Seattle is still the only team to have brought Kaepernick in for a visit since hitting free agency after the 2016 season. This long saga still appears to be far from a conclusion.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Earlier this week, the Raiders signed longtime Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson to a one-year deal. The details of that contract came out today, with the 13-year pro set to make $1.5MM. The contract includes a $200,000 signing bonus and $500,000 total guaranteed. With incentives, the deal could top out at $2.25MM, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets.
  • Former Browns receiver Greg Little appeared at the Cardinals rookie minicamp, Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com writes. Little, who hasn’t played a game since the 2014 season, was a promising second-round pick who flamed out after three seasons. The Cardinals offered the 28-year-old wideout a tryout this weekend and impressed new head coach Steve Wilks.
  • ESPN’s Dan Graziano took a crack at projecting the next big-money quarterbacks. To no one’s surprise, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list in 2020, but the sides are expected to come to a deal before that time. Among the other signal-callers who could surpass Kirk Cousins‘ big deal are Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Working Out

Former 49ers teammates Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are training together as they look to get back into the NFL, Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group writes. The duo was spotted working out at Cal State East Bay, but declined to offer specifics on their plans. 

We’re not doing interviews,” Kaepernick said. “We’re just here getting in a workout.”

From a talent perspective, both players should be rostered by NFL teams. However, their participation in anthem protests has apparently kept them from finding employment. Kaepernick, of course, sat out the entire 2017 season without drawing a concrete offer. Reid, meanwhile, has garnered very little interest this offseason outside of a meeting with the Bengals. The Bengals asked Reid about his plans regarding the anthem in 2018 and did not offer him a deal, prompting him to follow Kaepernick in his collusion grievance against the league. This week, the NFLPA backed the safety in his case.

Reid, 26, has made 69 starts in his career. The 49ers experimented with using him at linebacker at times, but the bulk of his work has come at safety since being taken in the first round of the 2013 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.