Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll explained his reasons for not signing Colin Kaepernick this week. Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since 2016 when he peacefully protested police brutality in America.
Pete Carroll regrets not signing Colin Kaepernick. The Seattle Seahawks showed some interest in Kaepernick back in 2017 when he was a free agent. Carroll told reporters this week: "I regret that it didn't happen, in some fashion. I wish we would have contributed to it because the guy deserved to play." Kaepernick is still a free agent. Carroll is still the head coach of the Seahawks.
If Carroll actually regretted not signing Kaepernick in 2017, he could just sign him now. The Seahawks currently have $14 million in cap space available.
The reason Caroll didn't sign Kaepernick in 2017 is he was too good to be the Seahawks backup. "I had to make that football decision...we had our starting quarterback...I figured he was starting somewhere for sure and it just didn’t happen." Colin Kaepernick became the only player in NFL history who was too good to be a backup quarterback and not good enough to be on an NFL roster.
For four years members of the NFL have spoken themselves into knots when it comes to Kaepernick.
Carroll is a particularly egregious offender because of how he has built his teams since returning to the NFL in 2010. He built the Legion of Boom, he built the Russell Wilson era of the Seattle Seahawks and he did so by embracing competition at every opportunity. In 2010, when Carroll and Schneider took over the Seahawks rebuilding project, they made an outrageous 284 player transactions.
The Seahawks approach was to explore every possible avenue to improve. Players came in and out, it didn't matter what was already on the roster. Everyone competed and the best man won out. It allowed Richard Sherman to become a star. It allowed Brandon Browner to transition from the CFL. Kam Chancellor won his starting spot alongside Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons revived his flailing career joining from the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, both overlooked free agents, signed smaller deals to grow into stars under Carroll's tutelage.
Even Russell Wilson won his starting job in a competition.
Wilson's favourite target was Doug Baldwin, who worked his way up from being undrafted. Carroll had Golden Tate and Baldwin in his starting lineup, but still made the aggressive move to trade for Percy Harvin. The Seahawks didn't need Harvin. Carroll embraced Harvin's character concerns. He embraced Richard Sherman's outspokenness. He has never had any concerns about adding players to his roster to get better.
It's at the forefront of what makes him a great coach.
Geno Smith is the Seahawks' current backup quarterback. Carroll said, "I like our setup right now. I love the way Geno fits together in our role and all that. So it’s not really available at this time for us." That's problematic because Geno Smith has never come close to Colin Kaepernick as a quarterback. It's not even a conversation. But it would be one thing if Carroll was trying to sell us that Smith is the better backup option than Kaepernick, he's not even doing that.
Carroll continued, "But I wouldn’t hesitate if [Russell Wilson] ever got tangled up and couldn’t play or something, Kaep would have been an extraordinary candidate to take over. Because of the dynamics of his play. We always really cherish the unique qualities that players bring. And he had a unique style that we couldn’t have respected more. I hope he’s going to get a chance to do that. Because, really, he deserves to be playing."
This has been a parable of the NFL since Kaepernick first protested. The idea that teams would sign him if they needed him. Carroll has constantly changed his backup quarterbacks over the years. Wilson has had Smith, Brett Hundley, Austin Davis, Trevone Boykin, Jake Heaps and Tarvaris Jackson back him up since 2015. Jackson had been a starter prior to being Wilson's backup.
Josh McCown was signed out of a tv studio to be a backup quarterback last season. Jay Cutler said he didn't want to play football anymore and the Miami Dolphins still gave him $14 million.
Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who is now a backup in New York. Robert Griffin III was a superstar quarterback who spent a year out of football before becoming the Ravens backup quarterback. Case Keenum was signed to be the Broncos starter, but now he's a backup in Washington. Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, the list of examples goes on and on. Starting quarterbacks sign deals to be backups all the time.
Ryan Tannehill took a pay cut 12 months ago to get his chance and now he's back starting again.
Carroll is aware of what his public comments will do. They fuel the football base that the NFL relies so heavily upon. The large demographic who believe in the concept of "distractions" in the NFL and the idea that football is more complex than rocket science. That it's a meritocracy where winning is all that matters. That Kaepernick is a problematic teammate despite all of his former teammates saying how much of a positive influence he is on the locker room.
He's trying to curry favour and win the praise of the people through his words while his actions contradict every word he says. Carroll is choosing to have a worse roster and selling it as him maximizing his chances of winning.
So when Carroll says "he’s a starter in this league and I can’t imagine that somebody won’t give him a chance to play” or "He could have been a fantastic player in the program. I felt like we missed the opportunity" before signing Austin Davis or recommitting to Geno Smith, don't believe a word he says. He could sign Kaepernick today if he wanted to.