It has been close to two years since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last played a down in the NFL, and more than a year after he accused the NFL’s owners of colluding to keep him out of the league due to his act of kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Despite the messy legal battle that followed, a new report suggests that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft might be one of those willing to give the 31-year-old signal-caller a second chance in the NFL.
Kaepernick’s name was mentioned several times in a New York Times report profiling NFL Players Association president Eric Winston and the challenges he faces when dealing with team owners and handling hot-button issues around the league. Regarding Kraft, the Patriots owner was described as being one of the NFL’s “most progressive,” albeit one who has a more old-school approach to labor issues than the league’s players, who are mostly in their 20s and 30s, do. However, it was also noted that he has a “clear grasp” on why the Kaepernick controversy is important and why it needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.
“Let me say this: I would very much like to see him in the league,” Kraft was quoted as saying.
On the other hand, the New York Times pointed out how Robert Kraft was recently cagey when it came to rumors from September that suggested the Patriots were hoping to sign Colin Kaepernick for the 2018 season as a backup to veteran quarterback Tom Brady, who turned 41 earlier this year. As pointed out by the publication, Kraft “paused for three seconds” when reporter Devin Gordon asked him if the rumors were true or not, before saying that he’s “done talking about it.”
Talking about Kraft’s refusal to comment on the Kaepernick rumors from two months ago, NBC Sports‘ Pro Football Talk speculated that the 77-year-old Patriots owner might have remembered the gag order issued in Kaepernick’s collusion case that prohibits all parties involved from publicly talking about the matter.
“It’s possible, if not probable… that Kraft widely opted to ensure that he stayed away from a line that is far more blurry than it is bright,” wrote Pro Football Talk.
While Robert Kraft has been playing it coy by staying mum on the Colin Kaepernick rumors, the quarterback’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, reportedly gave hints in September that the New England Patriots were among the teams possibly interested in signing his client. According to TMZ Sports, Geragos also mentioned the Oakland Raiders as another potential destination for Kaepernick, though he stuck to giving clues regarding the possible landing spots, rather than outright mentioning team names. Despite Geragos’ promises to provide updates on the situation, neither the Patriots nor Raiders ended up inking a deal with Kaepernick, who has been an unsigned free agent since the San Francisco 49ers released him after the 2016 NFL season.