Blackballed NFL quarterback and civil rights advocate Colin Kaepernick had a potential workout with the Seahawks scuttled after he reportedly refused to give the team a firm answer on whether he would continue his protests against police brutality. Amidst an off-season that has been no fun at all for Seahawks fans (losing Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman as Earl Thomas trade rumors swirl and the Rams get better is… not great…) this feels like a new nadir.
Let’s start with the football perspective. Backup quarterback is not the most important role on the team, but it can be crucial, especially if you have a mobile starting quarterback like Russell Wilson. And the Seahawks’ backup quarterback situation is dire. Last year they rolled with Austin Davis, who is bad, and Trevone Boykin who is both bad and already off the roster following a domestic violence arrest. Because they pushed all in last year on Duane Brown (good choice) and Sheldon Richardson (who signed with the Vikings… whoops!) they lack the draft capital to go out and splurge on any of the top six quarterbacks in what’s considered to be a good draft for quarterbacks. Also, the free agent market for backups is going a bit haywire with guys like Josh McCown commanding eight-figure salaries.
Which is to say Kaepernick, who is probably still good, and cheap for non-football reasons is a perfect fit. Culturally he certainly would have been a perfect fit for this locker room in the past. However, the question has to be asked, are the Seahawks fundamentally changing their view on having players who are outspoken and political? Michael Bennett was shipped off to the Eagles, Richard Sherman was cut, and the team reportedly passed on Eric Reid as a potential Kam Chancellor replacement.
This is disappointing for a team that has always claimed to be different from the average NFL squad. While there has been some hypocrisy in the past from the organization on this front, they have never refused to work out a potentially valuable player for political reasons. In fact, last year, they were the sole team to bring in Kaepernick for a full workout. Now they’re just another dumb team, making dumb choices that hurt the squad from an ethical and footballing perspective.
I am not a Seahawks doom-sayer; I do not think the Seahawks’ championship window has closed for good. They’ve got Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner anchoring above-average units on both sides of the ball, and are a good draft and offensive line philosophy shift away from being back in contention. I also do not think the team will full eschew politics in the locker room. Doug Baldwin’s work and ongoing central role on the team speak to that continuity. But a golden era is over. Losing Sherman and Bennett both on and off the field made that clear, and now every bit of news trickling in only serves to highlight what we’ve lost. Hopefully the Seahawks do the right thing and reschedule this meeting (as they’re rumored to be considering) and give Kaepernick every opportunity to bolster their anemic quarterback room. But there’s a lot of evidence that the team is no longer the sort of team that makes that move.