Colin Kaepernick not in Redskins plans
After Colt McCoy broke his leg in Monday’s 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins were, again, shopping in the bargain basement of the league’s unemployed quarterbacks to find another signal-caller for the second time in less than three weeks.
Don’t expect the Redskins, however, to sign the most notable quarterback without a job: Colin Kaepernick.
Coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday the Redskins discussed the free agent quarterback, but likely won’t be signing him with four games left in the season. Washington added another arm in veteran Josh Johnson on Tuesday but the starter’s job belongs now, the coach said, to Mark Sanchez, who finished the Eagles game.
Gruden said there’s not enough time left in the season to adjust the Redskins offense to Kaepernick, who is known as more a running quarterback than a dropback passer like Sanchez.
The Redskins have lost three straight, but at 6-6, are still in the hunt for the playoffs.
“Had this been Week 1, maybe it would probably be a greater possibility,” Gruden said. “But since this is Week 13 with four games to go, in order to really utilize really somebody like Colin Kaepernick’s skill set, you’re talking about a whole new group of formations and run concepts and all that good stuff. It’s just very difficult.”
Instead, the Redskins worked out another group of quarterbacks, which reportedly included journeymen Landry Jones and Ryan Mallett. Gruden said the goal was to find someone with a similar skill set to Sanchez.
The Redskins settled on Johnson who worked out for the Redskins before the team proceeded to sign Sanchez on Nov. 19 after Alex Smith suffered a season-ending broken leg.
The 32-year-old Johnson, who played under Gruden in Cincinnati, one of several clubs he’s worked for, has not thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2011, when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that took him in the fifth round in 2008 out of the University of San Diego.
Washington, too, hopes McCoy could possibly return this season. Gruden said McCoy underwent surgery Tuesday, but the timetable for recovery is only 2-4 weeks meaning there’s a chance McCoy could suit up in Week 17, or if the Redskins make playoffs.
When McCoy went down, Kaepernick’s availability became a quick talking point among the team’s fans, critics and pundits. NBA star (and Redskins fan) Kevin Durant, for instance, tagged the team in an Instagram story that accompanied Kaepernick’s image.
Kaepernick, of course, has not played in a game since 2016 and his job status led the quarterback to file a grievance against the league, alleging owners colluded to keep out of the NFL over his protests of racial injustice during the national anthem.
Kaepernick’s name was also linked to the Redskins when Smith went down, but Gruden said the team did not consider the 31-year-old at the time.
“With Sanchez, we wanted a guy with a similar skill set to Colt and somebody who could come into a pinch and function a little bit, which Sanchez did (against Philadelphia),” Gruden said. “He made some good plays. He had a nice two-minute drill at the end of the half. He got us some points and then in the second half like I said, we were behind the chains so much that is was hard. ... I think everything being equal, 0-0, Mark should be fine for this week.”
Sanchez went 13 for 21 for 100 yards and threw an interception against the Eagles. Washington signed Sanchez, in part, because of his familiarity with the coaching staff, with offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh serving as his quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets.
The Redskins’ defense of passing on Kaepernick isn’t particularly a new one. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Kaepernick didn’t fit his system months after San Francisco and the quarterback parted ways. Other coaches like Houston’s Bill O’Brien and former Packers coach Mike McCarthy said they were more comfortable with in-house options after their starters went down.
Those explanations aren’t good enough for Kaepernick’s supporters, who often cite the fact he helped lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2013 and point to mediocre quarterback play around the league.
Some fans, in particular, have blasted the Redskins’ organization for taking a chance on linebacker Reuben Foster, claimed off waivers on the heels of a domestic-violence arrest, while showing little to no interest in Kaepernick.
Kaepernick was once seen as one of the league’s most exciting up-and-coming quarterbacks, due to his dual-threat ability.
Last month, running back Adrian Peterson answered “of course” when asked if Kaepernick would be a good fit in Washington.
“You know what he presents and he brings as a quarterback,” Peterson said. “My personal opinion, I feel he still has what it takes to play in this league. It’s all about getting an opportunity.”
Added running back Chris Thompson: “I think he deserves a chance.”
But Kaepernick’s critics see a passer who has been out of football for years who had been on the decline already.
Others like President Trump believe Kaepernick doesn’t deserve another job after taking a knee during the national anthem.
Pro Football Talk also reported that Redskins’ team president Bruce Allen’s conservative political background meant the team wouldn’t embrace Kaepernick “ever.”
Gruden, though, said the Redskins’ evaluation of Kaepernick was “strictly” based on football.
“It’s just going to be a matter of which way we want to go,” Gruden said. “He’s been talked about and discussed, but we’ll probably go a different direction.”