Share this article

print logo

Jerry Sullivan: In league of bad QBs, still no room for Kaepernick

Predictably, Sean McDermott wouldn't commit to a starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Dolphins at his Wednesday morning press session. Tyrod Taylor was still recovering from a knee injury, and Nathan Peterman remained in the NFL's concussion protocol.

Taylor looked healthy in practice, and is the likely starter. But technically, McDermott could have been looking at journeyman Joe Webb as his starting quarterback against a formidable Miami defense at New Era this weekend, with tight end Logan Thomas as the backup.

So I felt it was only fair to ask McDermott if, during this recent run of injuries to his quarterbacks, he had given any thought to Colin Kaepernick.

"No," he said.

That's been the stock response in the NFL this season. No. You can't risk signing a quarterback who knelt during the anthem, exposing your organization to attention and ridicule for supporting a man who supposedly insulted the country, military and flag.

Yes, it's one thing for credibly accused child molesters to get within an eyelash of the U.S. Senate, or for the president to brag on tape about groping women. But it's quite another to hire a guy who once led his team to a Super Bowl, but took a controversial stand for racial justice.

None of this stopped Sports Illustrated from honoring Kaepernick with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which recognizes a person who "embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world."

Kaepernick, who has donated $1 million to social causes (read last week's SI for a full account), says he'll continue the fight whether he's in the NFL or not. I'm not suggesting the Bills should sign Kaepernick with three weeks left in the season. But it's an outrage that a QB who rated ahead of Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Eli Manning or Taylor last season is still without a job.

The list of quarterbacks who have taken a snap this season includes such marginal talents as Ryan Mallett, Cody Kessler, T.J. Yates, Austin Davis, Cooper Rush and EJ Manuel. Then there's the guys I was shocked to discover were still in the league: Scott Tolzien, Kellen Clemens, Chad Henne, even Derek Anderson.

LeSean McCoy on Kaepernick: 'He’s not really that good of a player to deal with'

When you look at some of the quarterbacks who are still hanging around the NFL, you wonder if Tom Brady and Drew Brees might be able to play until they're 50.

You know who should sign Kaepernick? The Eagles, a Super Bowl contender that lost starter Carson Wentz to a knee injury on Sunday. Nick Foles is a solid replacement, but Nate Sudfeld, an obscurity who has never thrown a pass in the NFL, is now a heartbeat away from the No. 1 job for an 11-2 team. Nevertheless, reports say the Eagles aren't interested in Kaepernick.

"That's kind of tough to bring a guy in with three games left in the year," said Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes. "For a quarterback, it's not like you're playing defensive end or running back. There's so much going on. It's like changing CEOs of a company in the middle of the year."

But it's not neurosurgery, either. The Eagles have already clinched the NFC East title with three games left and are in good shape to earn a bye in the wild-card round. There would be ample time for Kaepernick to familiarize himself with the offense — and for the organization to deal with any negative political blowback from the narrow-minded.

Of course, it's not as if every quarterback in the NFL is beloved by his fan base, or his own organization. Two of the league's less secure QBs — Taylor and Miami's Jay Cutler — will likely be starting on Sunday when the Bills host the Dolphins in the first of two games in three weeks between the historic AFC East rivals.

Taylor and Cutler aren't appreciably better than Kaepernick, and neither is likely to be with his team next season. McDermott benched Taylor a few weeks ago and seems ready to move on from him. Cutler had retired and graduated to an announcing job with Fox before signing a one-year deal with Miami when Ryan Tannehill went down for the year in August.

Things haven't gone terribly well for either. Cutler is 27th in the league in passing yards per game at 190.9 a game. Taylor is even worse at 174.2 yards per game, which ranks him 31st. Cutler has passed for fewer than 200 yards five times, Taylor eight.

Kaepernick: Buffalo was worst city to me

Considering the sorry state of their passing attacks, it's remarkable that the 7-6 Bills and 6-7 Dolphins could be playing a game with playoff implications. That tells you something about the mediocrity of the AFC, and how easy it is to be in the so-called hunt.

The Dolphins have been outscored by 82 points this season, which includes two shutouts (against the Saints and Ravens) and a game in which they didn't score against the Jets until the final seconds. Cutler played his best game of the season in a win over the Patriots on Monday, which generally means he has an epic meltdown up his sleeve.

After shutting down Brady, I don't suspect the Dolphins are quaking in their cleats at the prospect of facing any of the Bills quarterbacks. Miami held the Patriots to 0-for-11 in third down, after limiting the Broncos to 1-for-13 on third downs the previous week.

So it's not likely to be a high-scoring shootout on Sunday, regardless of the weather. Taylor and Cutler won't be stirring memories of Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, slinging the ball around in big rivalry games a quarter of a century ago.

No, it'll probably be another of a string of uninspiring games in the NFL this season, when you look out at the quarterbacks and ask yourself, "Uh, couldn't Colin Kaepernick be doing that?"

There are no comments - be the first to comment