PHOENIX – Cleveland coach Hue Jackson, whose team reportedly had some level of interest in Colin Kaepernick a year ago, has not seriously considered adding the free-agent quarterback to his weak quarterback position this offseason.
“We haven’t done any homework for this year,” Jackson said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. “My homework would’ve been for 2011 on Colin. We haven’t done much more since then, to be very honest with you. So, because, there are some other guys we’re chasing.
“It doesn’t mean that we won’t go back and re-visit him. It all depends on how everything shakes out over the next several weeks.”
Kaepernick, who entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2011, remains unsigned three weeks after teams were allowed to begin discussions with free agents. The 49ers have not shown any interest in re-signing Kaepernick, who threw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions for a passer rating of 90.7 in 11 starts in 2016.
The 49ers gave Kaepernick permission a year ago to seek a trade. The Denver Broncos and Browns were the teams most closely connected with Kaepernick.
“It didn’t get really that deep,” Jackson said. “I know everybody was reporting that we were in it. I don’t think it was as deep as people said it was. It was always kind of known that he was not leaving. So your work has to be done when you know there’s a legitimate opportunity for things to happen. What I know of Colin is what I know. I have not studied him much since the time when he was coming out.”
The Broncos and 49ers had the framework of a deal worked out, but the trade hit a dead end when Kaepernick, the Broncos and the 49ers could not settle issues surrounding the guaranteed money on Kaepernick’s contract.
The 49ers and Kaepernick renegotiated his contract in October, which enabled Kaepernick to opt out of his deal and become a free agent this month.
The lack of apparent interest in Kaepernick around the NFL appears to have multiple layers. Some teams are not interested because they have no need at quarterback. Some teams do not run offensive systems that would appear to suit Kaepernick. And other teams might not be interested in adding a player who created a controversy last season with his decision to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial inequality in the United States.
When asked if he considers the off-the-field aspect associated with Kaepernick, Jackson answered, “I think we will consider it if that was somebody that we were going to target. We’re just not in that mood right now.”