Let’s get this out of the way before things get out of hand: This is in no way an announcement of a political stance. I hardly know enough about politics to have a position on anything in the first place, to be quite honest.
I have no interest in politics; it’s just two different core sets of beliefs consistently trying to one-up each other in the stubbornness department. Sure, I have my beliefs and values based on what I’ve learned through my unique experiences and education, but I refuse to fall into the never-ending trap of constant bickering.
This column has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with football and common sense.
Colin Kaepernick set social media on fire last season by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before games. And by set social media on fire, I mean he poured lighter fluid on the relentless quarrel between the two sides of the political spectrum.
His actions were controversial, and he knew that. He was aware that he was turning off a lot of people by making such a statement on the biggest stage in sports. And he’s in the midst of dealing with consequences right now; despite being one of the best quarterbacks in the 2017 free agency class, he still has not been signed.
Quarterbacks with lesser pedigrees and ability have come off the market left and right. The only team he visited was Seattle, who chose Austin freaking Davis over him.
Kaepernick currently possesses the fifth-best touchdown/interception ratio in the history of the NFL. Despite throwing to a wide receiver group that posted the second-highest drop rate in the NFL in 2016, Kaepernick completed just shy of 60 percent of his passes. Overall, in 11 starts, Kaepernick tallied 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions through the air.
He finished 16th in the NFL in adjusted net yards per attempt (7.2), 23rd in the NFL in yards per attempt (6.8), and 17th in passer rating (90.7).
“Well aren’t you the guy that prefers film analysis over statistical analysis?” screamed all the angry readers.
Why yes, yes I am. Kaepernick’s main knock is that he can’t be a pocket passer, and that take is just incorrect (and considering Andy Benoit said it, there’s no surprise it’s wrong). I’m not here to say he is some sort of elite pocket passer a la Sam Bradford, but to make the claim he can’t is just crazy town banana pants.
I’m about to paste a couple of Twitter threads in here. The first one is from Lorin Cox, an analyst at Pro Football Focus and Draft Breakdown, among other sites, and it starts with the below tweet.
"Colin Kaepernick can't throw from the pocket" pic.twitter.com/4rQHUM6GhG
— Lorin Cox (@CoxSports1) May 29, 2017
First of all, excellent choice to use this example as the cover GIF for the thread. Look at that dime. Kaepernick holds the safety with his eyes just long enough to open a sliver of a window to the corner route, and he delivers.
The second thread is from Cian Fahey, who created the Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback Catalogue. It begins with the below tweets, with a common theme of Kaepernick making the right play from the pocket.
Comes off first read on the left side of the field, moves to create better throwing lane, leads TE away from defender. Touchdown. pic.twitter.com/M7OtwpKBU8
— Cian (@Cianaf) May 12, 2017
And Kaepernick’s flaws are not lost on me — his accuracy down the field is spotty, and he tends to hold onto the ball too long. I just haven’t let these weaknesses take over my perception of him like some have.
In his article above, that I for some reason linked, Andy Benoit made the claim that there are 15 backup quarterbacks better than Kaepernick, which is a flat-out outrageous statement (although outrageous statements are Benoit’s brand, so I’ll give him that).
Both on film and statistically, Kaepernick ranks as a Top-32 quarterback in the NFL.
But you may ask, why bring him to Minnesota if the Vikings already have Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Taylor Heinicke and a recuperating Teddy Bridgewater on the roster?
Easy; he’s a crystal clear upgrade over both Keenum and Heinicke as the backup, which would relieve any pressure Bridgewater may feel to rush back in 2017 if an injury-prone Bradford misses time. And given Kaepernick’s current situation, a cheap one-year deal is likely all it would take.
Plus, Kaepernick is a terrific fit in Pat Shurmur’s West Coast scheme. Speaking of West Coast system, remember Chip Kelly? You know, Kaepernick’s former head coach? Shurmur worked closely with that guy in Philadelphia for three years. It all just makes too much sense.
Now, I understand how unlikely this potential acquisition is. The most iconic figure in Vikings history used harsh language to voice his displeasure with Kaepernick last October, and I can’t imagine the front office would even think about contacting Kaepernick with Bud Grant watching.
However, with all due respect to Grant and his enduring legacy, why does that matter? Is the job of the general manager not to improve the roster at any opportunity possible?
Would there be a PR backlash? Absolutely. Are some of you reading this lighting your torches in preparation to come to my house and protest? Probably. Should any of the off-field this stuff matter when the Vikings have the opportunity to bring in a former NFC Champion and patch any question marks about the most important position on the roster? Nope.
If I were making front office decisions, adding Kaepernick would be a no-brainer for me.
This post is not a political column. It is a football column. Put away your pitchforks. Put away your torches. Put away your political biases. Colin Kaepernick’s talent, production, and pedigree are sure to improve whatever team does scoop him up.
I just wish it would be the Vikings.