- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2019

After news broke Friday that Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid had settled their grievance cases against the NFL, the next question was easy: Is a comeback in the works for the former San Francisco quarterback?

“Absolutely,” said Kaepernick’s lawyer.

Mark Geragos told CNN his client is likely to sign with a new team within days — and he specifically mentioned two teams — the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots — as potential fits for the 31-year-old.

Kaepernick has not played since 2016 when he started 11 games for the San Francisco 49ers. He filed a grievance against the NFL in October 2017 alleging owners colluded to keep him out of the league because he took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

A successful return from a two-year layoff isn’t unprecedented, but it’s rare.



Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick signed with the Philadelphia Ealges in 2009 after missing two seasons while doing prison time for his role in a dogfighting ring. Vick went on to start 42 games with the Eagles before signing with the New York Jets in 2014.

Other examples of high-profile returns include Deion Sanders coming out of a four-year retirement in 2004 to join the Baltimore Ravens and former 49ers running back Garrison Hearst missing two years (1999, 2000) because of a severe ankle injury.

Of course, NFL teams were free to sign Kaepernick over the last two years. Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly said that Kaepernick would be signed by a team if they thought he could help them win.

If an NFL team does take a chance on Kaepernick, it is unclear how much he has left in the tank. In 2016, he threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions, but went 1-10 as a starter.

NFL teams have cited different reasons for passing on Kaepernick. Last year, when the Redskins lost starter Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy, coach Jay Gruden said there wasn’t enough time left in the season to fully utilize a player like Kaepernick.

Others, like the Green Bay Packers and the Houston Texans, have said they felt comfortable with in-house options after their starting quarterbacks went down because of injury.

Will teams be more open to Kaepernick now that this case is resolved? The Carolina Panthers, for instance, could use a quarterback with Cam Newton recovering from a shoulder injury. Owner David Tepper already signed off last September on signing Reid to a contract. The Panthers also signed Reid to a new three-year, $22 million deal last week.

If Kaepernick remains unsigned, look for his supporters to keep the pressure on the NFL.

Pop artist Rihanna said earlier this month she boycotted the Super Bowl because of Kaepernick’s unemployment.

And this weekend at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant voiced their support for Kaepernick’s settlement.

“I think with Kap, I stand with Kap, I kneel with Kap,” James said.

Added Durant: “A lot of people don’t agree with what Kap is doing, but I do, and I’m going to stand behind him and support him.”

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