January 1, 2017. That’s the last time Colin Kaepernick started an NFL game. 88 different quarterbacks have started the three seasons since then. Including repetitive QBs starting for different teams, there’s been 105 different starting quarterbacks. Colin Kaepernick has not been one of them.
Everyone knows the story involving Colin Kaepernick. He was highly criticized in and outside of the NFL for taking a knee during the National Anthem. His way of protesting silently was meant to be harmless and help raise awareness of the issues in our country. Issues that have really come to the surface in the last week.
But this isn’t about those issues. This is about the proof that Kaepernick deserved a second chance.
2013 is a long time ago. That’s when Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 12-4 record and a Super Bowl appearance.
Fast forward three years later, to his final NFL season in 2016. 49ers were 1-10 in games he started. It wasn’t all his fault. That was Chip Kelly’s one-and-done year in San Francisco and every part of it was a disaster. Kaep threw only 4 interceptions on 331 pass attempts. He completed 59.2% of his passes, an improvement on his career year in 2013 (58.4%). The 2,241 yards passing were the third most in his 5 years as a starter. He also ran for 468 yards and 2 touchdowns.
If you don’t want to believe the stats, go look at the tape. You’ll see a very qualified and solid quarterback. Top 32? Maybe, maybe not. Over the last three years, he definitely would have been a top 64 QB. Only 4 teams have had the same starter all 16 games each of the last three years. That means men way less qualified than Kaepernick, men proven to be worse, got opportunities ahead of him.
If you don’t want to look at stats, or tape, look at this…
Here are the 88 QBs, and 105 variations, that have started a game since week 1 2017.
- Patriots – Tom Brady
- Dolphins – Jay Cutler, Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen
- Bills – Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen, Derek Anderson, Matt Barkley
- Jets – Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, Sam Darnold, Luke Falk, Trevor Siemian
- Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges
- Ravens – Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III
- Bengals – Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel, Ryan Finley
- Browns – DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan, Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield
- Texans – DeShaun Watson, TJ Yates, Tom Savage, AJ McCarron
- Titans – Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill
- Jaguars – Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew
- Colts – Jacoby Brissett, Scott Tolzien, Andrew Luck, Brian Hoyer
- Chiefs – Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Matt Moore
- Broncos – Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum, Drew Lock, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen
- Raiders – Derek Carr, EJ Manuel
- Chargers – Philip Rivers
- Cowboys – Dak Prescott
- Giants – Eli Manning, Daniel Jones, Geno Smith
- Redskins – Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Dwayne Haskins
- Eagles – Carson Wentz, Nick Foles
- Packers – Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley
- Vikings – Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion
- Bears – Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Mike Glennon
- Lions – Matthew Stafford, David Blough, Jeff Driskel
- Saints – Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater
- Bucs – Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Panthers – Cam Newton, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen, Will Grier
- Rams – Jared Goff, Sean Mannion
- Seahawks – Russell Wilson
- Cardinals – Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton, Josh Rosen, Sam Bradford, Kyler Murray
- 49ers – Brian Hoyer, CJ Beathard, Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens
Look at that list. And remember that no one has been willing to give Kapernick a second chance.
Yet, this more specific list of QBs got a second chance (and more). I’m all for second chances, even third. But you can never, ever convince me that Kaepernick wouldn’t have been better then any of these guys.
Nathan Peterman, Bills – the 2017 fifth round pick is known for one thing – in a game against the Chargers in week 11 of the 2017 season, Peterman threw 5 interceptions IN THE FIRST HALF! Peterman was so bad that he started AGAIN three weeks later in a game against the Colts. Rather than sign an established backup in 2018 (a guy like Kaep?), they kept Peterman and he started 2 more games. For his career, Peterman has 12 interceptions on 130 pass attempts.
Don’t worry, the bad stench from his Bills tenure wasn’t strong enough to keep the Raiders from signing him and employing him since 2018, through the 2019 season.
DeShone Kizer, Browns – Kizer was a second round pick (#52 overall) out of Notre Dame in 2017. He started 15 of the Browns’ 16 games in 2017, losing all 15! He completed just 53% of his passes, throwing 11 touchdowns and a league-leading 22 interceptions.
It’s fine that Kizer stunk as a rookie. But in 2018, he was signed by the Packers and 2019, he was signed by the Raiders.
Cody Kessler, Jaguars – Kessler was a third round pick (#96) by the Browns in 2016. He lost all 8 of his starts. He was so bad as a rookie, that the Jaguars wisely signed him to backup the equally awful Blake Bortles in 2018 and actually had to start Kessler 4 games due to injuries. To his credit, Jags did go 2-2 in Kessler’s 4 starts, but he had a complete lack of accomplishments and was undeserving of this chance. Especially, when you consider the awfulness of Blake Bortles and the Jaguars lack of an established backup QB.
Josh Johnson, Redskins – this might be the best one…in 2013, Josh Johnson appeared in 2 games for the Bengals. He did not throw a pass, but ran the ball 7 times for 20 yards. Prior to that, he threw his last pass on 12/11/2011 as a member of the Bucs. His last start was 12/4/2011. So what?
SO HE SIGNED WITH THE REDSKINS IN 2018!
Let’s recap – Kaepernick threw his last pass and started his last game on January 1, 2017. Josh Johnson threw his last pass and started his last games in December 2011. 6 years apart. Yet, after injuries to Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, and Mark Sanchez, the Redskins chose to sign Johnson off his couch.
Brock Osweiler, Dolphins – Here’s what you need to know about Osweiler – he was benched in 2015 for Peyton Manning. But not the GOAT Peyton, an injured shell of himself Peyton on his final legs, months away from retirement.
In 2016, he signed a 4 year, $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) contract with the Texans after just 7 career starts. He started 14 games and was pretty bad. So bad, in fact, that the Texans traded him to the Browns. He was so bad and had such a horrific contract, that the Texans included a 2018 second round pick and a 2017 sixth round pick and received cap relief (and a 2017 fourth round pick).
Browns released him after drafting DeShone Kizer, who went 0-15 as a rookie starter. After returning to Denver in 2017, where he started 4 games, he got ANOTHER contract, signing with the Dolphins in 2018, where he started 5 games.
That’s like 3 chances, arguably 4. But remember, Colin Kaepernick doesn’t deserve a second chance.
Scott Tolzien, Colts – Tolzien was mostly terrible in two starts with the Packers in 2013. Apparently, he wasn’t terrible enough to keep the Colts from signing him. In his second chance, he started on Thanksgiving in 2017, tossing 2 interceptions in a loss to the Steelers. And that should have been it. But it wasn’t.
Three starts was not a large enough sample size, and Tolzien remained rostered in 2017. With Andrew Luck out injured, the Colts didn’t have a viable backup plan. They acquired Jacoby Brissett, but he wasn’t ready so Tolzien was forced into action starting week 1 that season, completing 9-18 passes, throwing for 122 yards and 2 interceptions.
Jeff Driskel, Lions – Driskel was a 6th round pick by the 49ers in 2016, but was waived before the season. He was claimed off waivers by the Bengals, and spent the 2016-2017 seasons on the bench. He started 5 games for the Bengals in 2018, due to an injury to Andy Dalton. After being released, the Lions signed him in 2019 and he started 3 games. Driskel, whose teams are 1-7 in games he starts, will enter 2020 as a backup QB on the Broncos.
EJ Manuel, Raiders – If Raiders needed a backup to Derek Carr in 2017, they could have signed Colin Kaepernick. Instead, they chose EJ Manuel, a former first round bust, who would be forced into action in one start in 2017.
Geno Smith, Giants – Jets went 12-18 in Geno Smith’s starts from 2013-2016. He signed with the Giants in 2017 and started one game. One veryyyy controversial game. Eli Manning started every game of his career with the Giants, 210 in a row…until November 28, 2017 when former coach Ben McAdoo inexplicably benched him for Smith.
Would Colin Kaepernick have had more success than any of these quarterbacks? I have no idea. He might have been way worse than them, honestly. But this isn’t a debate about could he or would he. It’s proof that he was way more deserving of an opportunity than some of these second/third chance QBs.
But there’s also no debate that his career is over. Despite, a workout in front of team personnel last fall, Kaep will never throw another pass in the NFL. Too much time has passed and now, it’s fair to take guys with recent experience, even if they are less qualified. But at the time, you can never tell me you’d rather have Cody Kessler or EJ Manuel over Kaepernick.