Colin Kaepernick is owed a debt by the NFL and the Seahawks should rectify it

Joe Fann
NBC Sports Northwest

Colin Kaepernick has been a free agent since March of 2017, and he's essentially been blacklisted from the NFL over the course of the last three years.

The Seahawks brought Kaepernick in for a workout that offseason, but that's about it. The quarterback's private workout in Georgia last November also failed to yield any meaningful opportunity of potentially getting back into the league.

Now there might finally be some momentum in this regard given the event of the last week. A collection of prominent NFL players put together a video demanding the NFL condemn oppression, admit wrongdoing in the league's lack of support for protesting players and say very clearly that black lives matter.

Commissioner Roger Goodell came through, posting a video response.

"We were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to peak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said.

That admission of guilt should pave the way for Kaepernick's return to professional football, and Seattle should be one of the teams inquiring about the quarterback. Both Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have spoken about Kaepernick the last few weeks.

Carroll, on an episode of the Flying Coach Podcast, explained how brave Kaepernick was for taking a stand back in 2016 and added that "we owe a tremendous amount to him."

Wilson, on a Zoom call with local reporters, mostly deferred to Carroll when it comes to personnel decisions but said, "I think ultimately he could be on our roster for sure."

If Carroll was serious about the league being indebted to Kaepernick, then he's in a prime position to clear the ledger. Because Wilson is right: Kaepernick absolutely could be on Seattle's roster.

Kaepernick, now 32, could compete with Geno Smith and undrafted rookie Anthony Gordon to be Wilson's backup. You can't say that either of the latter two names are obviously better than Kaepernick to the point of not needing a competition to prove it.

From a football standpoint, signing him is a no-risk move. He is either still capable of playing and wins the backup job or he doesn't. There's zero quarterback controversy given Wilson's greatness.

However, the Seahawks would assume some risk from a business perspective. While Seattle's political climate would welcome Kaepernick more universally than other markets, there would undoubtedly still be plenty of Seahawks fans who opposed the moves. Kaepernick is a lightning rod who still has ardent detractors.

Kaepernick (and others) would most likely resume the protest of taking a knee during the national anthem in a continued movement that speaks out against police brutality and the oppression of people of color. But no matter how pure his intentions are (Kaepernick has said repeatedly that the protest has nothing to do with the military or the flag), his critics will never accept a protest in that fashion.

Such backlash could have financial consequences, which makes this even more of an opportunity for the Seahawks to make a stand of their own that this issue is bigger than their bottom line.

And Kaepernick himself isn't perfect. It was a mistake, in my opinion, to wear socks with cops depicted as pigs. I also think it was unwise to wear a shirt that featured Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. But it's possible to acknowledge those errors in judgement while still understanding that Kaepernick was right: We have a problem in this country as it pertains to law enforcement, police brutality and systemic racism. Countless videos on social media the past few weeks have confirmed that. Goodell and Carroll essentially admitted that Kaepernick didn't deserve to lose his football career for protesting the racial injustice in this country.

Seattle recently released a statement in the wake of the George Floyd murder that condemned the systemic racism that has "plagued our society for generations." The organization ended the statement with a $500,000 donation with the goal of "reformation in our nation's current policies regarding hiring and training within law enforcement, judiciary protections and accountability, and for advanced education related to the history of race in America."

It was a fantastic move from a very progressive organization. Now wouldn't it be the perfect next step to sign the face of the global Black Lives Matter movement? I think so.

Colin Kaepernick is owed a debt by the NFL and the Seahawks should rectify it originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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