Patriots

Hey NFL, how about a 'Kaepernick was right' statement?

colin_kaepernick.jpg
File photo

Hey NFL, how about a 'Kaepernick was right' statement?

The Colin Kaepernick/NFL discussion has long been difficult, confusing and lacking specific information.

Did the owners send out some type of "eff this guy" memo? Does he want to play? Do non-sports fans understand that he was a declining player who had become a backup before he began his protest? What kind of contract does he want?

But the Colin Kaepernick/kneeling discussion? Clear as day.

He wanted to bring attention to unarmed black men who posed no threat being killed by police. And as we've learned time and again, he was painfully correct. 

So in this day of statements, where is the statement from the NFL or an NFL team acknowledging that Kaepernick was right? That there didn't need to be a division regarding his peaceful protest and that there shouldn't be going forward?

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

This is coming from someone whose fandom for Kaepernick began when his NFL career (seemingly) ended.

Prior to 2016, I wasn't a fan of Colin Kaepernick because I didn’t think he was that good. I didn’t like him as a high draft pick in 2011, and though I was impressed along with everyone else when he reached the Super Bowl as a first-year starter in 2012, I felt vindicated when he proved to be a middle-of-the-pack quarterback (just one season of 20 touchdowns, and it was 21), before eventually becoming a backup.

Then he sat. Then he took a knee. I obviously didn’t share his perspective or experience [see: what I look like], but I supported the point he was trying to make, even as so many were unwilling to listen. When others began following suit, I supported it and wondered whether I would join them if I were... sorry, couldn’t get through a sentence imagining myself as a professional athlete without laughing.

When he opted out of his contract after the 2016 season, I wondered what his market would be, not just because he had started a movement that had ruffled feathers with owners, advertisers and fans, but because — and here's where it gets uncomfortable — I wouldn't have been jumping to sign the guy (for football reasons) if I were a GM.
 
When lesser quarterbacks signed for backup jobs, it was noted that they had a job, but Kaepernick didn't. I got that, but I also understood that they were signing for peanuts, whereas Kaepernick — like any competitor would — was probably thinking, "I was drafted at the top of the second and had a couple of good years in the beginning. I'm better than these bozos and should get paid."

There were reports that he wanted $10 million a year. That was Tom Brady's cap number in 2017. Drew Brees was making $19 million. Aaron Rodgers was making $20.3 million. Ten million bucks back then for a guy who'd compete to be a starter was too much.

So every time a bad quarterback signed and I saw Twitter explode with a "come on, THIS guy over Kaepernick?" I thought the situation was being misrepresented, because the contracts weren't the same.

Then the report about the $10 million was refuted. Then, after teams showed up to a workout in 2019, Kaepernick changed the location at the last second. Both sides took shots at each other, and the ordeal was interpreted a million different ways. So little information, only speculation. 

Now it's 2020. Kaepernick still isn't in the league and nobody knows whether the guy wants to play football — and if he does, for how much.

But here's what we do know: He was right, and you can be as "meh" on him as a player as I am and still get that. There should be zero people left who misinterpret his message as a shot at the troops.

Teams don't have to sign the guy to show they understand his point. And if these teams are really trying to do whatever they can, they can start with "it took a while, but we're listening."

You saw Martellus Bennett's tweets about some of the statements we've been seeing. He thinks they're hollow and opportunistic. I'll presume there are active players who are similarly skeptical.

This would not only reach players who have taken knees and caught flak, but people like Drew Brees, whose lack of understanding this week was staggering to anyone who has followed the kneeling story even remotely closely. It would be a positive step.

The conversation around Kaepernick has been cloudy and confusing at points, but there shouldn't be any confusion remaining about why he was taking that knee.

He was right, and it's about time the league acknowledged it. 

Julian Edelman, DeSean Jackson make plans to 'educate one another'

spark_edelman_jackson.jpg
USA TODAY Sports photo

Julian Edelman, DeSean Jackson make plans to 'educate one another'

Maybe some good will actually come from DeSean Jackson's anti-Semitic Instagram posts after all.

It all started last weekend, when Jackson posted several pieces of content which were immediately criticized by the public, NFL, and the Eagles organization. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

While Jackson later apologized for his posts, Edelman — who is Jewish — reached out to the Eagles wide receiver via Instagram because he saw "an opportunity to have a conversation." Edelman suggested the two players visit both the Holocaust Museum and Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and then "have those uncomfortable situations."

Happily, it looks like Edelman's message was well received. Friday morning on social media, Edelman shared that the two wideouts are planning to "use our experiences to educate one another and grow together."

As Edelman said in his initial post to Jackson, "This world needs a little more love, compassion and empathy." And despite the ugly origins of this story, the two players can hopefully turn that around into a positive result.

NFL Rumors: Patriots would be perfect landing spot for TE David Njoku

NFL Rumors: Patriots would be perfect landing spot for TE David Njoku

Now may not be the best time for the Patriots to be wheeling and dealing, shopping and swapping.

They remain tight to the salary cap (a little more than $1.2M in cap space according to Pats cap expert Miguel Benzan), the number of players who’ll actually be allowed in training camp remains in flux, the NFL is pilfering one of their third-round picks for the videotaping silliness last season … there are just a lot of moving parts right now.

Still, Browns’ tight end David Njoku? That’s an enticing player at a position of need.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

And he’s sitting right there giving the Patriots a chance to take a mulligan on a spot they ignored in the draft for almost a decade.

Njoku, who turns 24 today (July 10) was a first-round pick in 2017, a year when the Patriots should have been drafting a tight end but took Derek Rivers, Antonio Garcia, Deatrich Wise and Conor McDermott.

Last weekend, Njoku’s agent Drew Rosenhaus let it be known Njoku wants out. That stance probably has something to do with the Browns signing Austin Hooper in free agency but it was also reported Njoku’s been unhappy there for a while.

As enthused as we all got over the Patriots finally drafting tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in April, Njoku is barely a year older than Asiasi, who turns 23 next month. And Njoku’s already spent three years in the league with 32 catches for 386 yards as a rookie and 56 for 630 in 2018.

Last year, he played in just four games because of a wrist injury — two in September and two in December.

The Browns picked up his fifth-year option in April, meaning they have committed to him in 2021 for about $6M. Njoku’s 2020 base salary is $1.76M which is the cap hit that would travel with him for this season if he were traded.

The Browns, according to longtime Cleveland.com beat writer Mary Kay Cabot, were still very committed to Njoku when they picked up the option in April.

“(Browns GM Andrew) Berry effectively eliminated that uncertainty (over Njoku’s future role) when he stressed that the tight end was an integral part of the team’s future even though they drafted Harrison Bryant in the fourth round out of Florida Atlantic and signed Austin Hooper to a blockbuster, four-year, $42 million free-agent deal that made him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end at $10.5 million a year.

"To David in particular, our perspective remains the same,'' Berry said. "I have been pretty consistent this offseason in terms of we still have a ton of belief in David. He is very talented.

"Obviously, he was not on the field much last year, but he is a guy with outstanding physical tools, he has proven NFL production and we still think the future is very bright with him here. David has always been and continues to be in our plans, and we are going to continue to add competition all across the roster.”

Njoku, who missed 10 games last season with a broken wrist that required surgery, returned late in the year only to be a healthy scratch for two of the last four games after Freddie Kitchens lost faith in him. In four games, he caught five passes for 41 yards and one touchdown. But the Browns believe that Njoku, 23, still has plenty of upside and will be a big playmaker in Kevin Stefanski’s tight-end-friendly offense, which most often utilizes two tight ends and sometimes three.

The Patriots weren’t able to provide a capable tight end option for Tom Brady in his lone post-Gronk season with the team. And they didn’t do anything of consequence to plan for that period either. But even before signing Cam Newton, the team realized how deficient they were at the position and grabbed Keene and Asiasi.

As committed as the Browns GM sounded in April, there’s no doubt the asking price for Njoku right now will be high. Probably too high for any team to spend on a guy with just this year and next at $6M left on his deal.

But, like Tampa Bay tight end O.J. Howard, Njoku is now a former first-rounder who feels like he’s soon to be on his way out of his present situation.

Despite the drafting of Keene and Asiasi, tight end is a position that shouldn’t be seen as sewn up. It’s going to be critical to the success of a Newton-led offense and the Patriots can make up for lost time if they can convince Cleveland to cough Njoku up.