Speaking Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the notion that NFL owners are blackballing free agent quarterback and political activist Colin Kaepernick, noting (via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez) that teams “all want to get better. And if they see an opportunity to get better as a football team, they’re going to do it. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make their football team better. So, those are football decisions. They’re made all the time. I believe that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, is going to improve that team, they’re going to do it.” While one wouldn’t expect Goodell to publicly throw owners under the bus, Kaepernick is likely, at minimum, an NFL-caliber backup. Yet, after throwing 16 touchdowns against four interceptions and finishing second among QBs in rushing yards in 2016 (468, with a 6.8 YPC), the longtime 49er hasn’t garnered much interest this offseason.
Elsewhere around the sport…
- As was the case a month ago, free agent nose tackle Vince Wilfork is unsure whether he’ll attempt to continue his career in 2017 or retire. “Mentally, I’m where I’ve been all this while, I’m 50-50,” Wilfork told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. Wilfork added that he’s not going to rush into a decision, and he shot down the idea that his retirement talk is a ploy to avoid training camp and the preseason. “Camp now is like ‘Camp Cupcake.’ You’re only in pads for 10 days,” he said. “I mean, it’s so different now, so anybody that thinks I’m missing because I want to miss training camp or preseason, man, that is baloney.” Wilfork, a 13-year veteran who spent his first 11 seasons in New England and the previous two in Houston, is coming off the 12th straight campaign in which he started in all of his appearances. The 35-year-old took part in 15 of the Texans’ regular-season games in 2016 and picked up 21 tackles.
- Bears wide receiver Kendall Wright swiped at his previous employer, the Titans, earlier this week, implying to Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly that they’ll rue letting him go. On why Tennessee reduced his playing time last season, including making him a Week 17 healthy scratch, Wright said: “That’s a question I can’t [answer]. Ask them. They’’ll feel it after this year.” The onetime 94-catch man (2013) hauled in a career-worst 29 receptions in 2016, but Wright believes he “probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year.” After, in Wright’s words, only “playing like 10 plays a game” last season, the sixth-year man is now part of a Chicago receiving corps that includes two other notable veteran newcomers in Victor Cruz and Markus Wheaton, 2016 breakout Cameron Meredith and injury-challenged 2015 first-rounder Kevin White.
- Talks on a new collective bargaining agreement haven’t begun because the players have yet to give NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith permission to negotiate with the league, reports Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That’s not ideal for the league because it prevents it from hammering out new television and media deals, suggests Cole. The current CBA runs through 2020.