After Cam Newton contract, Colin Kaepernick could help five NFL teams

After Cam Newton contract, Colin Kaepernick could help five NFL teams

Editor's note: This story originally was published on June 6, but we have edited and re-promoted in wake of Cam Newton agreeing to a deal with the New England Patriots.

Colin Kaepernick’s last game in an NFL uniform came on January 1, 2017. The 49ers lost to the Seattle Seahawks 25-23, and Kaepernick was 17-of-22 passing with 215 yards and one touchdown.

The signal-caller hasn’t been able to find another team in the NFL willing to sign him since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers. Many have speculated that teams wouldn’t bring Kaepernick in as a free agent due to his choice to kneel during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season. Kaepernick sued the NFL for collusion in 2017, as he felt he was blacklisted by the owners due to his protest. The two sides settled out of court. 

The NFL arranged a tryout for Kaepernick in November, but disagreement between the league and Kaepernick’s attorneys led to the QB hosting his own workout at a high school in the Atlanta area, about 60 miles from the Atlanta Falcons facility. Kaepernick showed he’s still got some of that trademark arm strength.

Now that the tragic death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department has brought the issue of police brutality and racism front and center in the United States, many have reflected on the roots of Kaepernick’s protest more than three years ago. The NFL also has acknowledged that it hasn’t done enough to combat the issue, and vowed to listen to its players more during a social media post from commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday. Goodell, however, did not mention Kaepernick specifically in his statement.

Now that Cam Newton has found a home with the New England Patriots, which teams might be the best situation for Kaepernick to join after three full seasons away from the NFL?

Here are five squads that could benefit from bringing the 32-year-old quarterback in.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

After franchise staple Ben Roethlisberger injured his elbow in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh wasn’t left with a lot of talent at the game’s most important position. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges put together an admirable effort the rest of the way, but the Steelers finished 8-8 despite featuring a top-five scoring defense in 2019.

Roethlisberger also turned 38 in March, and likely doesn’t have many starter-quality years left in the NFL. Kaepernick is six years younger -- and with Big Ben coming off an injury -- the ex-49er could help keep the offense afloat for Pittsburgh in case Roethlisberger can’t return to his previous form.

Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said on June 17 that Colin Kaepernick would be on the Chargers' summer workout list, and that teams "would be crazy" not to work out the former 49er.

After letting franchise icon Philip Rivers go to the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, the Chargers currently have Tyrod Taylor, No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert and Easton Stick in their quarterback room. Kap certainly could be a strong mentor for the rookie Herbert and should be able to compete for snaps with Taylor, who hasn't been a consistent NFL starter since 2017 with the Buffalo Bills.

[RELATED: Add Newton's Pats contract to ugly pattern for Black QBs]

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have dealt with ineptitude at the quarterback position for many years. Gardner Minshew didn’t exactly set the NFL on fire in his rookie season, but 21 touchdowns with just six interceptions over 14 games did inspire some hope in Jacksonville.

Quarterbacks have shown a tendency to regress in their second season, and Kaepernick could serve both as a solid backup option and a mentor for the 24-year-old Minshew. Jacksonville traded former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to Chicago this offseason, and currently, has Mike Glennon slated to be the backup for the Jaguars.

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford has been one of the most prolific passers in the NFL over the past decade. The gunslinger topped 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons from 2011-13 but has dropped off in recent years.

He only played eight games in 2019 after breaking bones in his back. Stafford reportedly is 100 percent recovered from the injury, but has taken plenty of shots over his 11-year career.

Trade rumors swirled around Stafford early last season, and he even put his $6.5 million Michigan home on the market in May. Kaepernick would be a nice insurance policy for Stafford, and even has a similarly powerful throwing arm.

The Lions did agree to terms with Chase Daniel on a three-year deal in March to be Stafford's backup.

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan believes Colin Kaepernick deserves admiration]

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan did win the NFL MVP just four years ago, but he hasn’t returned to near that level since offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departed for the 49ers.

Ryan’s numbers have declined, and he led the NFL after being sacked 48 times in 2019. Although Matt Schaub has been a serviceable backup, including throwing for 460 yards in his lone start last season, he’s 38 years old and likely isn’t much of an upgrade over Kap, if at all.

Kaepernick’s added athletic ability also could bring a different element to Atlanta’s offense in case of Ryan’s absence.

Why 49ers' Fred Warner believes Kamala Harris as VP pick is 'big deal'

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Why 49ers' Fred Warner believes Kamala Harris as VP pick is 'big deal'

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden helped make history Tuesday when he picked Sen. Kamala Harris to be his vice presidential running mate.

Sen. Harris, who was born in Oakland and served as the District Attorney in San Francisco, is the first Black and South Asian woman to be part of the ticket for a major political party in the United States.

That's meaningful for 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who was a guest on "Race in America: A Candid Conversation," which will air Friday night after Giants Postgame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and after A's Postgame Live on NBC Sports California.

"That's obviously a big deal," Warner told host Monte Poole. "Anytime a minority is put in a position of power, I think that's great for our country, and I think it was a big deal, just like when [Barack] Obama got elected as president, as the first Black president. So just continuing to strive to get people of color into positions where we can make change and do the right thing."

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

Warner, who turns 24 a few weeks after the Nov. 3 election, told Poole that he will be voting for the president for the first time. He explained why he didn't vote in the 2016 election, when he was 19 years old at the time.

"I think I felt like I had this mindset that I’m not very educated on it, I didn't know who to vote for," Warner told Poole. "I was kind of confused about it, so I was like 'Well, I don’t want to vote for the wrong person.' Also I didn't really feel like my vote counted. I'm like 'I'm just one person. What is my vote going to mean especially if I'm not educated about it?' Now I'm like 'OK, I have just as much of a responsibility to vote as anyone else.'

"In order to make an intelligent and educated vote I need to make sure I'm doing the work outside of just playing football, you know, instead of going home and watching TV, I actually got to put some time in and make the right decision."

[RELATED: Warner says fighting injustices can't stop in NFL]

The first Tuesday in November will be a special day for both Sen. Harris and Warner.

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

As the sports world now is underway despite the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is next up. There will be questions and concerns aplenty, too. 

Before training camp even begins, several players already have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to health concerns. That list is bound to grow as well.

Here is who will not be suiting up this season as the virus continues to run rampant. 

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

Duvernay-Tardif, who has a medical degree from and has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec during the pandemic, became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs' starting offensive guard tweeted his reasoning on July 24. 

De'Anthony Thomas, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens 

Return specialist De'Anthony Thomas voluntarily opted out of the season, the Ravens announced Monday. 

Chance Warmack, OG, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported Monday that Warmack has opted out of the season. Warmack, who signed with the Seahawks this spring, also sat out last season 

Maurice Canady, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Garafolo also reported Monday that Canady is opting out of the season as well. 

Marcus Cannon, OL, New England Patriots

Cannon, who battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, will not play in 2020.

Danny Vitale, FB, New England Patriots

Vitale and his wife recently had a baby, so the fullback will not be participating in the 2020 season.

Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

Hightower, who has a two-week-old son, is choosing to protect his family's safety.

Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bolden is one of five Patriots to opt-out of the season.

Patrick Chung, S, New England Patriots

Add another Patriot to the list.

Najee Toran, OL, New England Patriots

Make that six Patriots. 

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The former 49ers receiver announced he will not play this season after the birth of his daughter in February.

Andre Smith, OL, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens announced Smith joined his teammate, De'Anthony Thomas, in opting out this year. 

Star Lotulelei, DT, Buffalo Bills

The Bills announced former first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei has opted out. 

Stephen Guidry, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys annoinced undrafted rookie Stephen Guidry has opted out.

Devin Funchess, WR, Green Bay Packers

Funchess announced on Instagram that he has opted out of the season. 

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Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Houston Texans

The former Raiders defensive lineman will not play in 2020.

Cole Wick, TE, New Orleans Saints

The veteran tight end will not play this season, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.

Michael Pierce, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Pierce, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract this offseson, is high-risk and has opted out.

Nate Solder, LT, New York Giants

Solder opted out of the season, citing family's health concerns.

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The star of Super Bowl LIV has opted out of the season, the Chiefs announced.

Chandler Brewer, C, Los Angeles Rams

Brewer played seven games with the Rams after signing as an undrafted free agent last summer.

“With my history with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season,” Brewer said in a statement posted to the team’s website. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Marquise Lee, WR, New England Patriots

The USC product became a father for the first time in February, and cited his newborn daughter as a major factor in his decision.

"This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that's going out there, it just wasn't worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns," Lee told ESPN.com.

C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker is citing family health concerns as his reason for opting out, ESPN's Rich Cimini reported Saturday.

E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Brandon Beane says the cornerback will sit out the 2020 season. 

Matt LaCosse, TE, New England Patriots

Matt LaCosse is the eighth Patriot to opt out of the season.

Da'Mari Scott, WR, New York Giants

The Giants were informed by Scott that he is opting out of the 2020 season.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Detroit Lions

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday, citing a source, that Allison has decided to opt out of the season.

D.J. Killings, CB and Jeremiah Valoaga, DE, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders announced Monday that Killings and Valoaga opted out of the season.

Travis Benjamin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

A day after general manager John Lynch said he didn't expect any 49ers to opt out of the season, Benjamin announced on Twitter that he was doing just that.

Shon Coleman, OL and Jake Brendel, OL, San Francisco 49ers

Ukeme Eligwe, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

Anthony McKinney, OL, Tennessee Titans

Allen Hurns, WR and Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins

Lerentee McCray, EDGE and Rashaan Melvin, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Christian Miller, LB Carolina Panthers

Colby Gossett, OL, Cleveland Browns

Brad Seaton, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Caleb Brantley, DE, Washington Football Team

Jordan Mack, LB Carolina Panthers

Eddie Goldman, DT and Jordan Lucas, S, Chicago Bears

Josh Tupou, DT and Isaiah Prince, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

Drew Forbes, G, Drake Dorbeck, T, Andrew Billings, DT, and Malcolm Pridgeon, G, Cleveland Browns

Jamize Olawale, FB, Dallas Cowboys

Kyle Peko, DT and Ja'Wuan James, RT, Denver Broncos

John Atkins, DT and Russell Bodine, C, Detroit Lions

Skai Moore, LB, Rolan Milligan, DB and Marvell Tell, DB, Indianapolis Colts

Al Woods, DT Jacksonville Jaguars

Lucas Niang, OT, Kansas City Chiefs

Jason Vander Laan, TE, New Orleans Saints

Sam Beal, CB, New York Giants

Leo Koloamatangi, OL and Josh Doctson, WR, New York Jets

Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB, Washington Football Team

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