Colin Kaepernick

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Thomas, 49ers

Despite the Seahawks expecting Earl Thomas not to hold out, they still have him on the trade block, John Clayton of ESPN said during a radio appearance with KESN in Dallas (via the Dallas Morning News). Clayton added that the Seahawks would likely be willing to move their three-time All-Pro safety for less than a first-round pick, indicating they would probably trade Thomas for a package featuring second- and fourth-round selections and perhaps something in the 2019 draft. Clayton indicates the Cardinals could use a free safety but that the Seahawks were not going to trade Thomas to an NFC West team. The Cowboys moving Byron Jones to cornerback would open a spot there, and Thomas was vocal about being receptive to a Dallas deal, and they strike Clayton as the top suitor for the 28-year-old defender’s services.

Here’s the latest from Seattle, along with other West-division locales, heading into draft week:

  • Pete Carroll said this week the door wasn’t closed between the Seahawks and Colin Kaepernick, but Clayton said this partnership will be unlikely. The longtime ESPN reporter added the Seahawks did work out Kaepernick last year when he visited but did not offer him a contract because Carroll exited the interview with the impression the former 49er still wanted to be an NFL starter rather than a backup.
  • The 49ers covered their linebacker bases this week. After hosting Roquan Smith on a top-30 visit, they welcomed Tremaine Edmunds to the Bay Area for a 30 summit, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports. The 49ers scheduled the Smith and Edmunds visits weeks ago and not in light of the charges levied against Reuben Foster, per Barrows.
  • Foster’s plea hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 30, and Barrows reports that if no delays occur, jury selection for this case would transpire in late July. With the 49ers barring Foster from their workouts until this matter is resolved, that’s going to essentially nullify the second-year linebacker’s offseason. However, the alleged victim has hired representation, which could cloud this case.
  • The Cardinals visited Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk recently.

NFC West Notes: ‘Hawks, Thomas, Kaep

Seahawks GM John Schneider says he has not talked to Earl Thomas‘ representatives since the combine, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets. However, Schneider added that is not unusual. Despite his name being floated in trade rumors this offseason, the GM says that he hopes to have Thomas on the roster when the season begins.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

NFC West Rumors: Gurley, Rams, Seahawks

After an aggressive offseason, many are wondering how the Rams will afford to hold on to their best players, including running back Todd Gurley, in the long run. Apparently, Gurley doesn’t share that same concern.

Obviously, we know Aaron Donald is the guy to get paid,” Gurley told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That’s the last thing we want to worry about is trying to get ours done when we need our best player to get paid. That’s not even really the focus right now,” Gurley said. “Once you win that Super Bowl, they don’t have a choice but to pay you whether it’s the Rams or any other team. Once we try to put that together and do that, everything will take care of itself. Just focus on what’s next.”

Gurley, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has one year remaining on his original rookie deal and is expected to be retained this offseason via the fifth year option. While he says that he’s not thinking about his next deal, it would behoove him and his reps to get a dialogue going with Los Angeles brass. Given the limited shelf life of running backs in the NFL and Gurley’s own injury history, it would make sense for him to gain financial security beyond 2019.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Seahawks Re-Sign QB Austin Davis

The Seahawks are re-signing quarterback Austin Davis on a minimum-salary deal, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). However, Garafolo hears this will not end the team’s talks with Colin Kaepernick

Davis spent last season as Russell Wilson’s backup, though he did not throw a pass in the regular season. His last attempted throw came in 2015 with the Browns as he appeared in three games with two starts. Davis is perhaps best known for his time with the Rams, which included eight starts (3-5 record) in 2014.

Last week, the Seahawks postponed a scheduled workout with Kaepernick as they look to get a read on the quarterback’s future plans, including whether he’ll kneel for the anthem in the coming season. Reportedly, the team “asked for his plan moving forward on how to handle everything and there was not a firm plan.” The Seahawks are also said to have concerns about Kaepernick’s overall commitment to football as he continues to push social justice initiatives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colin Kaepernick

While a new avenue with the Seahawks has opened up, albeit with a rather significant hiccup early in that process, Colin Kaepernick remains embroiled in a collusion lawsuit with the NFL.

The latest owner deposed in the case, Jerry Jones, has been the most vocal about players standing for the national anthem. As he did for the depositions of Texans owner Bob McNair and Ravens decision-makers Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, Kaepernick is sitting in on the proceedings, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports. This deposition in Frisco, Texas, is scheduled to last several hours.

Jones is one of many owners scheduled to be deposed in this case. In addition to previously reported members of the deposition list — Patriots owner Robert Kraft, 49ers CEO Jed York and Pete Carroll — Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Seahawks owner Paul Allen are also on this docket, Robinson reports. The Yahoo reporter notes Jones’ inclusion stems from several factors, among them comments he made about retribution for Cowboys who protested during the anthem and conversations Jones had with President Donald Trump about the NFL’s response to protests during anthems.

The outspoken Dallas owner is among a group of owners who have urged Roger Goodell to end the players’ right to kneel during the playing of the national anthem, and Robinson reports Jones is expected to make another push for this practice to end at the next set of owners’ meetings in May.

This case is not expected to be resolved soon, with Robinson reporting these historic proceedings will likely drag into 2019.

As for a possible Kaepernick/Seahawks agreement, the quarterback’s camp said (video link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) the Seahawks issued an ultimatum that hinged on Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem. Word out of Seahawks headquarters was that the franchise wanted a firm plan from the 30-year-old passer about how his role in the racial inequality-centered protest movement going forward. Robinson reports the Seahawks were specific regarding the anthem, and that the former Super Bowl starter declined to make a commitment at this time.

The Seahawks saw Michael Bennett become part of this protest movement last season, refusing to stand during the anthem. A 2017 report also indicated Kaepernick would stand for the anthem if he was signed last season. It’s unclear if that stance has changed, but it certainly remains an issue in the passer landing a contract offer. The Seahawks door is not believed to be closed, but the team also has other Russell Wilson backup candidates in mind.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Rumors: Kaepernick, Reid, Carroll

The Seahawks have postponed a scheduled workout with Colin Kaepernick, but the door is not closed on the polarizing quarterback, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Seahawks brass, including GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, want Kaepernick to consider how he wants to proceed on his social justice initiatives – not just the anthem protests – before getting together at a later date when his plans are formed. Overall, as Rapoport notes, the Seahawks have been on board with players speaking out for what they believe.

Here’s more from Seattle:

Seahawks Postpone Kaepernick Workout

The Seahawks made plans to audition Colin Kaepernick this week, but the trip has been postponed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The workout has been pushed off after Kaepernick declined to stop kneeling during the national anthem next season. 

[RELATED: NFL Lawyers Depose Kaepernick]

Kaepernick did not decline to stop kneeling, per se, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Apparently, the team “asked for his plan moving forward on how to handle everything and there was not a firm plan.” The Seahawks also have concerns about Kaepernick’s overall commitment to football, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times hears. Still, the Seahawks have not closed the door on signing Kaepernick.

Coach Pete Carroll & Co. also showed interest in Kaepernick last offseason during the height of his anthem protest controversy. Seattle ultimately chose journeyman Austin Davis as their backup quarterback, perhaps because of public relations fears. Depending on who you ask, Kaepernick’€™s salary expectations may have also been a factor.

Kaepernick, of course, is presently embroiled in a collusion suit filed against the league. Kaepernick’s attorneys have deposed a number of owners and executives and, on Tuesday, NFL lawyers responded by deposing Kaepernick himself. Depositions are done behind closed doors, but it is believed that he was asked about whether he expected to be signed as a starter last season, the kind of money he was seeking, and whether his injury history had deteriorated his skills.

It’s unclear how the Seahawks’ latest invitation to work out – and postponement of that audition – may affect his case.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colin Kaepernick

On Tuesday, NFL lawyers will depose Colin Kaepernick in New York, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports writes. Kaep will become the first witness deposed by the NFL in his own complaint. 

No one knows for sure what the NFL will ask the former 49ers quarterback, but a league source tells Robinson that lawyers are likely to concentrate on Kaepernick’s mental outlook during the free agency period last March. Kaepernick says that he was blackballed from the league, but NFL attorneys will question whether he “corrupted his free agent market through a series of factors relating to football skills, contract expectations and motivation to play,” Robinson writes.

It’s expected that he’ll be asked whether he expected to be signed as a starter, what kind of salary he was seeking, and whether his injury history had diminished his skills. League lawyers may also ask him to produce his smoking gun, which would be concrete proof that teams or executives sought to keep him out of the game.

Although the questioning of Kaepernick is a major development in his collusion case, it’s not a sign that the end is near. In fact, Robinson hears that the collusion complaint could drag into 2019 with a number of league execs, owners, and team personnel left on the QB’s deposition list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Browns, Allen, Ravens, Broncos

Quarterbacks have justifiably dominated draft-centric Browns conversations this offseason, but Joe Thomas‘ retirement has left a hole the franchise hasn’t had to worry about since the Romeo Crennel regime. And as of now, the Browns have shifted Shon Coleman from right to left tackle, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com notes. With Chris Hubbard having been signed to play right tackle, the 6-foot-6 Coleman — a 2016 third-round pick who started all 16 games at right tackle last season — Coleman finds himself with either an opportunity to replace a legend or on the verge of being demoted. An anonymous NFL exec, per Pluto, does not believe John Dorsey will go into training camp with Coleman stationed atop the Browns’ depth chart at left tackle. Pro Football Focus preferred Coleman’s pass-blocking work to his ability to open running lanes, bestowing a middling overall grade upon the young blocker, but Coleman’s 14 penalties were the most among tackles last year.

Thomas replacement Spencer Drango, a 2016 fifth-rounder, gave up 11 sacks — most in the league in 2017. The exec floated the idea of the Browns trading down from No. 4 and selecting a tackle, but the team holds the Nos. 33 and 35 overall picks that could be used on a tackle without sacrificing prime first-round real estate.

Here’s the latest from the AFC:

  • Contrary to a previous report, the Jets do not have a Josh Allen visit scheduled, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. However, Gang Green brass did trek to Wyoming this week to observe a private workout. The Jets have been linked to Allen for months, and several team officials “love” the 6-foot-5 quarterback’s skill set. Allen has also been connected to the Browns and is among the four passers visiting the Giants next week.
  • As he did for Texans owner Bob McNair‘s deposition in his collusion lawsuit, Colin Kaepernick attended those of Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The Ravens duo’s depositions have been completed. The team was linked to Kaepernick in 2017 but did not end up signing him. Conflicting reports came out over the past several months regarding Harbaugh’s interest in Kaepernick, who led two of Jim Harbaugh‘s best 49ers teams. The Ravens signed Robert Griffin III, who also did not play football in 2017, this week.
  • The Broncos cut ties with Britton Colquitt before the 2016 season because his salary was escalating out of the franchise’s comfort zone, but now they’ve landed Marquette King. He will make $2MM per year on average. King also confirmed there was a bit of a revenge measure associated with his signing with perhaps the Raiders’ biggest rivals. “I just wanted to find the best place that I thought I would fit,” King said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “I think there is somewhat of a revenge factor in there, too.” King punted for Dennis Allen– and Jack Del Rio-coached teams from 2012-17, but unlike the former Denver defensive coordinators, new Oakland HC Jon Gruden wasn’t a fan of the punter’s personality. King said the Broncos did not ask him to tame down his antics.
  • Expect the Broncos to try and get what they can for incumbent punter Riley Dixon, Klis notes. The Syracuse product selected in the seventh round in 2016 has two years remaining on his rookie deal, but being a punter coming off a down season, it’s possible the Broncos may simply have to waive Dixon. Klis observes a trend in Denver ditching or demoting core members of its 2017 special teams units, which struggled. ST coordinator Brock Olivo was fired after one season, Dixon has now been replaced and ex-UDFAs have been brought in to compete with Brandon McManus and long snapper Casey Kreiter.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Suh, Seahawks

Because of the lack of a solidified position, Jimmie Ward has enjoyed a unique start to his career. He’s been shuttled between cornerback and safety throughout his run with the 49ers, and despite returning to play for the same defensive coordinator in a second consecutive for the first time as a pro, Ward still doesn’t have a surefire position. Robert Saleh used him at safety last season after Jim O’Neil stationed him at cornerback in 2016. He saw action at both spots under Eric Mangini in 2015. Now, the 49ers are again ready to see if he can play outside corner again.

Jimmie Ward is a guy who’s played some outside corner in his career,” John Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “We’re going to experiment with that this offseason and see if that’s viable and give him some time there.”

The 49ers have Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon penciled in as cornerback starters, and Maiocco reports they don’t intend to re-sign Eric Reid. So, keeping Ward at safety would make more sense from a personnel standpoint. But the team nevertheless intends to persist experimenting with the fifth-year player as a corner. However, Maiocco notes the 49ers view 2017 seventh-rounder Adrian Colbert as a possible starting-caliber safety alongside Jaquiski Tartt.

Here’s the latest from the NFC West:

  • Speaking of positioning, the Rams will play Ndamukong Suh at nose tackle in their 3-4 base set, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers will play outside in Wade Phillips‘ base set, and Suh will play a position at which he’s lined up around 3 percent of his career, per Gonzalez. “Those are things that we talked about with Ndamukong,” Sean McVay said earlier this week. “We wanted to make sure, ‘Hey, do you feel good about the way we envision you?” Suh, who’s played only for teams that utilized 4-3 sets in his eight-year career, will see plenty of time as a 4-3 defensive tackle once the Rams are in sub packages. Los Angeles used sub sets 70 percent of the time last season.
  • Expected to be in the mix for wide receivers this offseason, the 49ers instead backed off of this year’s top UFA targets. Maiocco reports they weren’t interested in either Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson but are expected to target a wideout in the draft. “What you don’t want to do is have a bunch of guys who are OK but are paid like the best,” Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s where you get in trouble and have to stay away from in free agency. It’s usually why the draft is the best way to go.” San Francisco extended Marquise Goodwin this offseason and has Pierre Garcon due back as well.
  • UFA signee Jonathan Cooper will line up at right guard initially for the 49ers. Laken Tomlinson will slot in at left guard, per Maiocco, who adds a slimmed-down Joshua Garnett will compete with Cooper for the right guard job. Tomlinson started 15 games at left guard for the 49ers last season. Last year’s right guard, Brandon Fusco, left in free agency. A 2016 first-rounder, Garnett started 11 games as a rookie.
  • The Seahawks are again in need of a backup quarterback. The team waived Trevone Boykin, and Austin Davis remains unsigned. Colin Kaepernick does not appear to be in the team’s plans, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Kaepernick visited the Seahawks last year before the team signed Davis. Geno Smith met with the team this week, and Mark Sanchez has also been linked to Seattle. Sanchez’s former backup with the Jets, Kellen Clemens, also has ties to new Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer. The 34-year-old backup could interest the Seahawks, per Henderson. Clemens also worked under Schottenheimer with the Rams.