This is what Colin Kaepernick faces if he became a free agent

Should the San Francisco 49ers unexpectedly release quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a final round of roster cuts on Saturday, he might have an interesting barrier to his next NFL job: ownership.

Citing the controversial and highly visible nature of Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, four highly ranked executives from the four clubs said even discussing Kaepernick as an option in the future would require ownership signoff in their respective franchises.

“However you’re looking at it, [signing or trading for Kaepernick] is an endorsement of how the situation has been handled,” one executive said. “I have to explain to [my team owner] that a guy is going to [protest] the national anthem and draw attention to himself over the rest of the team. But I’ve got to say, ‘Here’s why we want to attach our franchise to this.’ … It’s not happening without him being OK with it.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

All four executives shared similar sentiments: that the political and social tone of Kaepernick’s message – and the various ways it can be construed – risks riling parts of not only the fan base, but the coaching staff and locker room.

“There are 100 different people you have to think about [on a football team],” one executive said. “When one guy separates himself from that for whatever reason – if it’s a reason that brings a lot of controversy – you have to think of everyone. Not just one player. [And] you have to think of [the owner] first. It’s his team.”

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All four executives said they don’t see Kaepernick as being a player who will be unemployable because of this protest.

“Some people will agree with him and some won’t,” one said. “But if he can still play, he’ll have chances. It’s a big deal right now, but once the season starts, it will be about [football] again.”

The 49ers play their final preseason game of the year on Thursday evening in San Diego, where Kaepernick is expected to see playing time as he battles for a spot on the team. He trails Blaine Gabbert in a fight for the starting quarterback spot, one he was demoted from last November.

Kaepernick has maintained that he will continue to sit during the national anthem until there is “significant change” with how racial minorities are treated by police in America.