Washington (AFP) - Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden ruled out making a move for Colin Kaepernick on Tuesday as the team grappled with an injury crisis that has left their two first-choice quarterbacks out for the season.
Kaepernick, who has been unemployed since being released by the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, claims he is being punished by the NFL for his "take a knee" protests during the national anthem to raise awareness over racial injustice.
The 31-year-old has said he hopes to return to the NFL despite being repeatedly overlooked by teams.
Kaepernick was linked to the Redskins after a season-ending injury to quarterback Colt McCoy during Washington's defeat by Philadelphia.
Gruden said Tuesday that while Kaepernick's availability had been discussed by team officials, no move would be made for him.
"He's been discussed for sure," Gruden said. "It's just going to be a matter of which way you want to go."
Gruden said the team questioned whether Kaepernick would have enough time to learn a "whole new offense."
"There's not a lot of time to get a brand-new quarterback and system installed in a couple of days," Gruden said. "He's been talked about, but we'll probably go in a different direction."
Gruden insisted it was purely a sporting decision, and not a reflection on Kaepernick's social activism.
"Just football, strictly football," Gruden said. "When you're talking about a backup quarterback this late in the game, you want someone with a similar skillset to the quarterback you have.
"Not that Colin can't do some of the things we've talked about, but we want someone with a little more familiarity."
Gruden's explanation was greeted with scepticism by Kaepernick's attorney Mark Geragos however.
"Isn't it obvious what's happening?" Geragos told the Washington Post.
Richard Sherman, cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers, was similarly critical, telling NBC's PFTPM podcast he believed Kaepernick was being ostracised.
"I think it's one of those situations where, it's disappointing, but that's exactly the case, you know, because there's nothing legally stopping the teams from doing it," Sherman said.
"There's not enough public pressure, nothing that's going to force a team to sign him, you know?"
Sherman said Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the brink of a Super Bowl victory in 2013 only to suffer a 34-31 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, was more deserving of an NFL roster spot than McCoy or Sanchez.
"They've had up and down years and Colin has played at a higher level than I would say any of those guys ever performed at the peak of their careers," Sherman said.
"You start to see stuff like that and it's almost like teams are purposefully making it obvious that, like, they're keeping him out."