Gilson’s Sports Guide: The Kaepernick saga returns 

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Three years ago, Colin Kaepernick was blacklisted from the NFL after controversy arose when he knelt repeatedly during the National Anthem. Fast-forward to this Tuesday: Kaepernick and the NFL agreed upon having a showcase this coming weekend to give the QB a chance to re-enter the league after his extended absence. The workout is set for Saturday, and while many teams may not attend (whether due to refusal or lack of need), I decided to give a few of the best-case scenarios that would put the 32-year-old in the position to re-assert himself as one of the most dynamic QBs in the league. 

 

Chicago Bears: 

It’s the 2017 NFL draft, you are the Chicago Bears and you have the second overall pick. The quarterbacks on the board are Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky—you know the rest.  

Since that draft, Chicago has had to watch Mahomes win MVP in his first season as a starter, as well as watch Deshaun Watson’s rise to fame. Meanwhile they have been stuck with little old Trubisky, who has shown flashes of potential, but has little to show thus far in his career. 

This season, Trubisky sits at No. 26 among QBs in yards thrown, No. 21 in completion percentage and No. 25 in passer rating, all while leading the Bears to a lowly 4-5 record despite having one of the best defenses in the league. This is where Kaepernick can step in; even if he were to come in as a backup to Trubisky, there is a chance it could light a fire under the young QB to potentially turn things around.  

Kaepernick’s role on the Bears would be to provide that sense of leadership they are so desperately craving on the offensive end. He has experience both in the regular and postseason (as well as a few historic games against the Packers I still have nightmares about), that could push this team to the next level given their fine receiving core and newfound running game with rookie David Montgomery. The defense is already there, now all they need is a reliable player at center. 

This is one of the more unlikely scenarios to occur, since the Bears organization seems content with the lackluster Trubisky, but if it were to happen it would be incredibly beneficial for both parties. 


Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a leaping catch in front of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a leaping catch in front of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 

This scenario would be the best for Kaepernick. The wide receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin represent one of the best in the league, as they sit at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in this receiving yards and can surely improve from Jameis Winston.  

In both seasons where Kaepernick played all 16 games, wide receiver Anquan Boldin eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving on the season, the first time he had reached that mark since 2009, putting him in the top 20 in both 2013 and 2014. And think, that was on the tail end of Boldin’s career; now give Kaep 26-year-old Evans and 23-year-old Godwin, and that makes this team a whole lot scarier. But honestly, a lot of things would be better than Winston right now. 

The fourth-year QB may just be the least mobile quarterback in the game, as his 4.97 40-meter dash back in his combine ranked as the slowest among first-round picks since 2010. Winston relies so heavily on his arm, which is even more disappointing when you see those stats, as he has ranked in the top-five in INTs in three of the last four seasons and currently sits at No. 1 this season after tossing 14 picks through nine games. 

Kaepernick is a solid step in the right direction in terms of minimizing turnovers and creating a more consistent offense that this young and exciting team could thrive in. Most significantly, though, would be what he adds with his feet, as Kaepernick was one of the most dynamic rushers in the league among all positions when he played.  

Similar to the situation in Chicago, as hard as it tries, the team can’t seem to shake Winston away, making it difficult to see this move happening. But if it were to, it would make for a huge shift in dynamics within the NFC South and entire NFL. 

 


Carolina Panthers: 

Sure, Kyle Allen has done a fine job filling in for the ever-injured Cam Newton, but doing fine is not what gets you a job in the NFL (at least it shouldn’t). Since exploding onto the scene with four touchdowns against the Cardinals, Allen has put up six touchdowns and five interceptions in his other six starts. He is very hit-or-miss as the signal-caller this season, throwing for over 200 yards and two scores one game before barely surpassing 150 and throwing three INTs in the next. This has put all the pressure and attention on MVP-candidate Christian McCaffery. 

The season McCaffery is having is historic, as he has the potential to break several records en route to being the first RB to win MVP since Adrian Peterson in 2012; however, this is in no small part due to the lack of consistent performance from Allen and the rest of the Panthers’ offense. This would be my favorite destination for Kaepernick to land, since the one-two punch of CMC and Kaep would be one of the best in the league if not in the history of the NFL. 

During Kaepernick’s draft combine back in 2011, he ran his 40-meter dash in 4.53 seconds, faster than the likes of Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and the surprisingly speedy Derek Carr. Combine this with McCaffery’s sub 4.5 40, and you get a fast and dangerous combo that few could compete with. The staple of the 49ers offense in 2013 (when Kaep brought them to the Super Bowl) was the read option, the same that he used in the NFC Divisional game where he torched the Packers defense for 181 rushing yards and two scores while tossing for 263 yards and two more touchdowns. 

As far as receiving core goes, the Panthers don’t look too bad in that department either, with Greg Olsen at TE and D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel at WR, Kaep would have plenty of options to work with. Even more significantly, he would have time to do so, with Carolina’s O-line ranking in the top half of the league in both run and pass protection. 

Inserting Kaep into the starting spot in Carolina would certainly switch up the league and put the average Panthers straight into the playoff conversation, with one of the scariest duos in the game. For now, though, let’s just hope he makes it back to the league in the first place.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)


Conner Gilson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at conner.gilson@uconn.edu. He tweets @connergilson03.

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