The Seahawks on Monday signed veteran Austin Davis to compete with Trevone Boykin for the backup QB spot behind Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks on Monday added a veteran quarterback to compete with Trevone Boykin as the backup to Russell Wilson.
But no, it wasn’t longtime 49er standout Colin Kaepernick, who visited the team two weeks ago to much fanfare.
Instead, the Seahawks signed 28-year-old Austin Davis, who visited at the same time as Kaepernick, 29. The Seahawks waived backup quarterback Jake Heaps to make room for Davis on the 90-man roster.
Davis has 10 starts in a career that dates to 2012, going 3-7 in those games, having completed 236 of 378 attempts for 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Davis has just two starts since 2014 and hasn’t played in a game since 2015.
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All of which immediately led to the obvious question — why Davis instead of Kaepernick, who in 2012 led the 49ers to the Super Bowl and the following season to the NFC Championship game before memorably throwing a pass tipped by Richard Sherman and intercepted by Malcolm Smith in the final seconds at CenturyLink Field?
What’s almost always a leading factor in any NFL negotiation is money — Davis was thought to have signed a deal for the veteran minimum of $775,000, or close to it, while Kaepernick was due more than $14 million in 2017 before opting out of his contract with the 49ers (who have admitted they would have waived him if he hadn’t). And while Kaepernick was not going to get anywhere close to that now, some have wondered if he’d be willing to accept a minimum deal.
But Kaepernick strongly hinted finances were not a deal-breaker with a couple of re-Tweets he sent out shortly after the news broke of Seattle’s signing of Davis, including a Pro Football Talk story and a Tweet by longtime NFL reporter Mike Freeman that stated: “The story that Kaepernick isn’t being signed because of his salary demands is a lie. It’s a straight up lie.” The NFL Network reported Monday that while general “expectations” of a contract had been discussed with Kaepernick that the Seahawks never made him a formal offer.
On Friday, when Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the team was not signing Kaepernick for now he had deflected a question about the quarterback’s contract demands saying he wouldn’t answer.
So was it instead Kaepernick’s political stances last season, including sitting and then kneeling for the national anthem (something he reportedly has told teams he will not do this year) that led Seattle to look elsewhere?
Carroll on Friday seemed to indicate otherwise, calling Kaepernick “a great kid” who “presented himself well” during his visit.
Instead, Carroll referred to Kaepernick as “a starter in this league” and that “we have a starter.”
That seemed to imply that Kaepernick might be desiring more of an opportunity — if you go with the idea money was not a factor — than the Seahawks could offer with Wilson clearly entrenched as the offensive team leader.
Or maybe it was a suggestion that the Seahawks may not have felt Kaepernick was best suited to being solely a backup — or as some interpreted it, including Pro Football Talk, that the team might be worried about the reaction of other players on the team if Kaepernick were to play better than Wilson, especially in light of a recent ESPN article stating some players feel the organization hasn’t held Wilson as accountable as it does others.
Maybe the truth was some mix of everything.
Whatever the reason, for now the Seahawks will go on without Kaepernick and instead with Davis to push Boykin.
Davis got his most playing time with the Rams in 2014 when he started eight games, going 3-5 in those contests, throwing 12 touchdowns against nine interceptions with a QB rating of 85.1.
One of his three wins came in an October game against the Seahawks, a 28-26 victory for the Rams in St. Louis. Davis was 17-20 for 155 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle for a career-high QB rating of 132.3. But he was benched four games later and then moved on to Cleveland.
Davis, who played at Southern Mississippi, also went 0-2 as a starter for the Browns in 2015, starts he got as an injury replacement for Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel and was with the Broncos last season but did not see action before being waived in late December. Denver listed him at 6-2, 221 pounds.
Davis and Kaepernick each visited the Seahawks on May 24 as part of the team’s search for a veteran to compete with Boykin, who is entering his second season with Seattle.
Boykin also has unresolved legal issues dating to an arrest in March for marijuana possession and public intoxication that also then triggered another arrest for violating probation. His first court date in connection with the March arrest has been initially set for July 14. The Seahawks have said they are confident Boykin will be available for the season but it has also been known they wanted to give him some competition for the backup job.
Seattle’s interest in pursuing a veteran took on more urgency following the NFL draft when the Seahawks did not take a quarterback and then did not find an undrafted free agent they felt could compete, immediately waiving Skyler Howard of West Virginia following the team’s rookie mini-camp.
Carroll said after the season that Wilson’s injuries in 2016 — the first of his career — would make the team reconsider if it needed to add a veteran as experienced insurance.
Boykin will make $540,000 this season, the league minimum for a second-year player.
Carroll on Friday gave something of a vote of confidence for Boykin while also stating that the team wanted him to have to fight for the job.
“Tre continues to need to be pushed, Jake is doing that right now,” Carroll said. “But that doesn’t mean that we are done. We are going to continue to look for ways to make it more competitive and put us in the best position if it counts and now you need that second guy in there he can do in there and do some good stuff. He did an admirable job last year as a rook doing it, and he’ll be better. He looks better, he’s much more in command of what we are doing. It takes years and years to develop these guys and he’s in year two so I expect him to continue to get better. We know he can play for us — that’s what we do know.”