Colin Kaepernick

La Canfora’s Latest: Bryant, Kaepernick, Roughing

Dez Bryant could be nearing a return to the football field. The biggest-name free agent left has been purposefully coy about when he will sign with a team, but sources close to Bryant are indicating he’ll sign sometime in October according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. One source told La Canfora “will really be in position to talk seriously with any interested clubs in two weeks”

If so, Bryant would probably end up playing a little over half a season for his new team. It’s likely that Bryant will look for a contender to sign with. La Canfora reports that the deal Bryant turned down from the Ravens earlier this year included over $13MM guaranteed, and that the offer he turned down from the Browns was worth around $5MM for one year. Interestingly, La Canfora notes that Bryant is getting help improving his mental health, including depression and panic attacks.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • Eric Reid may have signed with the Panthers recently, but that isn’t changing anything for Colin Kaepernick‘s lawsuit against the league La Canfora reports. Reid is sharing a lawyer with Kaepernick as he also sued the league for collusion. La Canfora writes that Kaepernick’s agent has continued to reach out to teams about potential interest but there “have been no overtures toward Kaepernick.” Although Reid is off the board, it still doesn’t sound like Kaepernick will be anytime soon.
  • In response to backlash to the sudden increase in roughing the passer penalties, the league’s competition committee is instructing officials only to look for certain specific things from now on, according to La Canfora. While the NFL has maintained not much will change, league sources told La Canfora that the “body weight” rule will now only be enforced if it is absolutely indisputable that the defensive player sought to put his full weight on top of the quarterback. Previously, if it was even questionable, officials were still supposed to call it a penalty.

49ers Haven’t Discussed Colin Kaepernick

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan says the team has not discussed bringing back Colin Kaepernick (Twitter link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com). Shanahan added that the team discussed signing Kaepernick last year, but determined that he was not the right fit for their offense. 

After Jimmy Garoppolo‘s season-ending ACL tear, the 49ers are looking into backup quarterback options. Kaepernick represents a viable starter in a sea of clipboard holders, but he is not in consideration for San Francisco. Kaepernick may not be an ideal fit for the offense, but the national controversy surrounding him may also be playing a role here.

Kaepernick, 31 in November, has spent his entire NFL career to date with the 49ers. From 2011-2016, he went 28-30 in his starts, though he did take the team to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season and the NFC championship game following the 2013 campaign. Kaepernick’s last start came in January of 2017 as the 49ers closed out a trying season with a loss to the Seahawks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Anthem, Kaepernick, Bell

There’s been a lot of talk about the league’s new anthem policy. There was massive controversy earlier this year when it was announced that teams could discipline players, including possibly with suspension, for not standing for the anthem.

It was then reported earlier this week that “moderate” NFL owners were looking for a compromise where discipline would be waived for kneeling players if the players union officially endorsed standing for the anthem. That will apparently not be happening anytime this year, as Adam Schefter of ESPN reports there will be no agreement between the two sides on a new anthem policy this season. Schefter notes that “the new policy is going to be no policy” adding that “too many people have stances too strong to figure out a compromise.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of the anthem, Albert Breer of SI.com writes that there’s been a “wink-wink agreement to drag the talks out a little” between the players and owners in order to “give the “do nothing” solution a test drive.” It’s in line with Schefter’s reporting, and makes sense considering the league just wants the issue to go away at this point.
  • Relatedly, league sources tell Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that the trial for Colin Kaepernicks’s collusion lawsuit against the league is going to take place at some point before the regular season is over. La Canfora also notes that Kaepernick hasn’t given up on a return to the NFL, and is continuing to work out to stay in playing shape.
  • In the same article, Breer writes that he doesn’t think Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence is smart, noting “most NFL people I talk to aren’t so sure there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow waiting for him.” Breer lists a number of factors, including his age, suspension and injury history, and recent antics as reasons why he doesn’t think Bell will land the payday he’s expecting this offseason.

Kaepernick Case To Move Forward

On Tuesday, Colin Kaepernick secured a major victory over the NFL. The quarterback won the summary judgement phase of his collusion case, which means that Kaepernick’s case will move towards a hearing (Twitter link via Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports). 

The decision from arbitrator Stephen Burbank was the “most pivotal moment” in Kaepernick’s case, according to Robinson. The law required all facts to be viewed “in the most favorable light” towards Kaepernick, since he is the one bringing the case, so the NFL’s legal team was facing an uphill battle.

Kaepernick, of course, has not played in the NFL since 2016, as clubs have shunned the 30-year-old following his national anthem demonstrations. While he was scheduled to work out for the Seahawks earlier this year, the audition was eventually canceled after Kaepernick declined to stop kneeling during the anthem.

Kaepernick alleges that owners from around the league colluded to keep him unsigned. The alleged 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, and he threw ten interceptions in 2014 alone. Of course, the Niners’ woes were not entirely Kaepernick’s fault, and he played well on a personal level in 2016 despite the team going 1-10 in his starts.

Kaepernick will turn 31 in November, and he seems further from an NFL opportunity than ever before. He may never win another game on the field, but he could be on his way to a historic victory against the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Iloka, Kaepernick

The Bengals surprised many with their release of safety George Iloka, but it has been in discussion ever since the drafting of Jessie Bates III in the second round, according to Kat Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Despite Iloka’s past performance, the Bengals are ready to move ahead with the rookie and give him the playing time he needs to develop. The Bengals were also wary of using a roster spot on a veteran who doesn’t fit on special teams.

Iloka wasn’t a fit for the 2018 Bengals, but there are plenty of other teams who are interested in his services. He’s already on the radar of the Raiders and Cowboys, and it stands to reason that other teams will get on the horn with him in the coming days.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Broncos GM John Elway violated the gag order issued in Colin Kaepernick‘s collusion case when he spoke about the quarterback last week, his agent alleges. “Mr. Elway, clearly he violated the protective order that the NFL has been wielding like a club at me,” attorney Mark Geragos said on his podcast (via Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports). “And he’s apparently suffering from some real brain trauma.”
  • It was widely reported that Jon Gruden‘s deal with the Raiders will pay him a guaranteed $100MM over ten years, but Gruden says that’s not true (via Mike Florio of PFT). The truth may be somewhere in between. It’s believed that Gruden’s $100MM is not fully guaranteed, Florio hears. The structure of the contract is believed to be more along the lines of $25MM over the first five years, and $75MM over the final five years. If that’s the setup of the deal, then it’s possible that the final five years are not fully guaranteed or even largely guaranteed.
  • Former Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton filed a grievance seeking payment of a $500K roster bonus, according Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Newton was officially released in April 12 with a failed physical designation, but his roster bonus was due April 1. The Texans held Newton on the roster past the bonus date, but he didn’t pass the physical. Therefore, Newton is seeking $200K from the team. For now, that number is held against the Texans’ cap.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Mack, Broncos

The Raiders’ situation with Khalil Mack continues to feature no movement. There is no end in sight, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, adding the 2016 defensive player of the year will not report in time for Oakland’s second preseason game. Reggie McKenzie previously said he does not expect the superstar defensive end to show up without an extension, so this isn’t unexpected. Mack will incur a fine of $814K by not being with the Raiders for their second preseason tilt, bringing his fine total up to $1.628MM, per Schefter.

Jon Gruden, meanwhile, insists the Raiders are trying to bring Mack back as soon as possible and called the fifth-year Raider “the best player coming off the edge in football.”

We’re going to try to get him here as soon as we can,” Gruden said during a Sirius XM Radio interview (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “In the time being, you got to move on. You’ve got to get up and go to work. That’s one thing I’m very proud of what we’ve done here. This is a negotiation. Joel Segal is Khalil’s agent. They’ve got their plan. General manager Reggie McKenzie and the people negotiating on our end have a plan. I’m coaching the team. At this time, he’s not here, and we have to focus on what we can control, and that’s just working.”

Here’s the latest from the West divisions.

  • John Elway shot down a Colin Kaepernick route to Denver, indicating the former 49ers quarterback turned down an offer in 2016. (Although, Brock Osweiler also turned down a 2016 offer only to return a year later.) But the Broncos GM did not rule out bringing in another veteran backup, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos demoted Paxton Lynch this week, and new second-stringer Chad Kelly has never thrown a regular-season pass. Matt Moore may be the top non-Kaepernick QB available.
  • The 2016 summit between Kaepernick, Elway, Gary Kubiak and Broncos exec Matt Russell at Elway’s house was a “positive meet and greet,” according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com. The Broncos liked Kaepernick coming out of Nevada in 2011, and after the 2016 meeting, Kaepernick believed he was en route to becoming Denver’s next starter. However, he balked at taking a pay cut (one that would have reduced his salary to $7MM). Citing the double-standard for Osweiler — whom Robinson believes stirred up some hard feelings among Broncos execs by spurning them for the Texans — receiving a second chance in Denver and Kaepernick not being considered, the NFL reporter points to this being another checkmark in the Kaepernick-being-blackballed column.
  • In his first 2019 mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Broncos selecting a cornerback in Round 1. Although All-Pro Chris Harris remains well-regarded as a Broncos cornerstone, Miller notes some in Denver’s front office aren’t sold on Bradley Roby as a long-term cog. Roby’s entering his contract year. Harris has two seasons left on his team-friendly deal. The Broncos selected Brendan Langley in the 2017 third round, but 2018 third-rounder Isaac Yiadom was the nickelback in Denver’s first preseason game in place of the injured Tramaine Brock.
  • Whatever the Rams end up paying Aaron Donald, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com feels that gives the Raiders a price point. But he expects a Mack extension to come in slightly below what Donald ends up earning. With edge rushers on average earning more than their inside counterparts, it remains to be seen if Mack would accept a deal that doesn’t make him the NFL’s highest-paid defender.

Broncos Won’t Consider Colin Kaepernick

The Broncos may be on the lookout for quarterback help, but they won’t be calling Colin Kaepernick. The polarizing athlete will not be in consideration for Denver, GM John Elway told reporters on Thursday (Twitter link via Lindsay Jones of USA Today). 

He had a chance to be here, he passed on it,” Elway said.

The Broncos and 49ers discussed a possible Kaepernick trade at length in 2016, but the deal was nixed when the QB refused to trim $5MM from his ’16 cap number and take additional pay cuts in future seasons. Kaepernick lost the camp competition to Blaine Gabbert, but regained his starting job in Week 6. After the Niners went 2-14 with Kaepernick starting for eleven of those games, the two sides parted ways in the offseason.

The Broncos, meanwhile, went 9-7 that year as they failed to land a quarterback who could fill Peyton Manning‘s shoes. It’s debatable as to whether they would have been better off with Kaepernick under center (Kaepernick personally largely played well that year), but what we do know is that he will not be joining the Broncos this year.

Denver is in a better place overall after signing Case Keenum, but there’s still much to be figured out when it comes to the backup quarterback situation. For now, former Mr. Irrelevant Chad Kelly is slated to be the team’s No. 2 QB with Paxton Lynch in line for the No. 3 job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Salary Cap, Kaepernick, Texans, Watt, Eagles

The NFL salary cap is an extremely complex system to navigate. It’s unlike anything else in professional sports and it can cripple a franchise for years if it isn’t wise with its spending. Front offices have whole teams of executives who work to maneuver through cap issues.

It’s notoriously hard to construct a balanced roster while staying under the cap, so Bill Barnwell of ESPN took a stab at creating the perfect NFL roster while staying under the $177MM cap. He wisely went with quarterbacks still on their rookie deals, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, and had some other relative steals like David Johnson and Alvin Kamara. Overall, it’s a pretty fun read with an interesting set of rules, and definitely worth checking out.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The decision of whether or not to dismiss Colin Kaepernick‘s collusion claim against the NFL is currently being mulled over by an arbitrator, per ProFootballTalk.com. The NFL is hoping to avoid the case going to trial.
  • Texans defensive end J.J. Watt says there is “no doubt” he’ll be ready for Week 1, according to Herbie Teope of NFL.com. His return will be a huge boost to the Texans’ injury plagued defense. Over the last two seasons, Watt has appeared in just eight games.
  • Here’s a recent projection of the Eagles’ 53-man roster including a full breakdown of long-shots, bubble players, and potential trade candidates courtesy of Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com.

West Notes: Kaepernick, Cardinals, Raiders

Thursday will mark a pivotal moment in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports writes. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank will meet with lawyers representing the NFL and the former 49ers quarterback to determine whether his case moves forward. If Burbank sides with Kaepernick, a hearing will take place and the QB’s team could press for even more discovery or depositions in an effort to prove its case.

Even if Kaepernick loses in this round, his legal team could still believe it has the necessary evidence to take President Donald Trump to federal court. That’s seen as a last-ditch effort for Kaep, so a victory on Thursday could lessen the chances of that battle taking place.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • Cardinals wide receiver Greg Little has a really good chance to make the roster, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Little, 29, has not seen the field since the 2014 season, but his route-running ability has impressed coaches thus far in camp. Little showed promise during his tenure with the Browns, including a 2011 rookie season in which he hauled in 61 receptions for 709 yards and two scores. Now that he’s healthy, Little believes that he can get back to his old form.
  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been critical of Martavis Bryant this offseason, but he impressed this week and had a particularly strong showing on Wednesday, as Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes. “Today was probably his best day,” wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett said. “Obviously, he got more reps today because of his overall preparation. Again, he’s putting the time in and the work in, and then he’ll benefit like he’s doing right now. That’s the starting point. It always starts with the preparation. … He just needs now to be consistent and keep stacking success. “He had a good day today. Now we need to stack tomorrow and keep building on it, keep building on it.Regardless of Bryant’s performance or his understanding of the playbook, it would be a shocker if Bryant did not make the final cut.

NFL Seeking Summary Judgement In Colin Kaepernick Collusion Case

The NFL is asking arbitrator Stephen Burbank to issue a summary judgement in Colin Kaepernick‘s collusion lawsuit against the league, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Burbank’s next move will decide the future of the case: if he accepts the NFL’s request, the case will end, but if Burbank denies the league, Kaepernick’s grievance will move forward.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains, the NFL is hoping to force Kaepernick to “put his cards on the table.” Kaepernick and his legal team will need to prove they have enough evidence of collusion to continue the lawsuit, meaning the former 49ers quarterback will likely deploy any and all “smoking guns” he has on hand. If Kaepernick does so, the league will then have an idea of his team’s trial plan.

Burbank’s summary judgement will be the “most pivotal moment” in Kaepernick’s case, per Robinson, as the arbitrator’s decision will decide the future of the lawsuit. However, law requires all facts to be viewed “in the most favorable light” towards Kaepernick, according to Florio, meaning he shouldn’t have a tough time forcing the case to continue.

Kaepernick, of course, has not played in the NFL since 2016, as clubs have shunned the former 30-year-old following his national anthem demonstrations. While he was scheduled to work out for the Seahawks earlier this year, the audition was eventually canceled after Kaepernick declined to stop kneeling during the anthem.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.