Colin Kaepernick still does not have a job in the NFL. Ever since he became a free agent after the 2016 season, the veteran quarterback has been unable to get so much as a single team workout. But now that depositions are being taken in Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league, it is likely that the drought won’t end anytime soon.
Last month, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair offered testimony in the case. Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome as well as coach John Harbaugh have also been questioned. Last Tuesday, Kaepernick was deposed followed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Thursday. Jones had his turn in the hot seat at the team’s headquarters and, like every other deposition conducted thus far, the former 49er was present.
But Kaepernick’s legal team still has a ways to go before a decision can be rendered in the matter. Before a ruling can be made regarding whether or not NFL team owners colluded to deny Kaepernick a job in the league, several other owners, league executives, and persons of interest must be questioned. The Star-Telegram reported that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen are still on the list.
Recent developments will make the upcoming meetings particularly interesting. The News Tribune reported on Monday that the Seahawks signed Austin Davis to back up Russell Wilson after rumors swirled that Kaepernick was a contender for the job. Davis is said to have been offered a base salary of $790,000 for the 2018 season.
Also curious is the fact that former San Francisco defensive back and fellow national anthem protester Eric Reid is still unsigned after becoming a free agent. Not only was Kaepernick’s Seattle visit canceled last week, but Bengals owner Mike Brown reportedly asked Reid if he planned to take a knee next season, according to the New York Daily News.
Considering that proceedings in the collusion case are well underway, many find it bizarre that owners are still taking these kinds of actions. The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) clearly states that players must be on the sideline during the national anthem. However, the CBA also states that players should “stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.” The latter-stated criteria are therefore not mandatory as written.
Mike Florio reported on Pro Football Talk that Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as Chairman of the Management Council John Mara, have vowed to protect the right of NFL players to peacefully protest. The league created the rule in 2009 and have since reaffirmed their position in 2016 and 2017.
According to Florio, even posing the question to a player about his intent to demonstrate is a legal issue as opposed to a financial issue or a public relations matter.
“Regardless of whether it’s ‘bad for business’ when players protest during the anthem, the NFL gave them that right, the NFL confirmed that right, and the NFL has reiterated the confirmation of that right,” Florio said. “Making employment decisions based on the exercise of that right makes that right meaningless, which makes it flat-out wrong to consider past protests or plans to protest in the future when deciding whether to sign a player.”