Colin Kaepernick last threw a pass in an NFL game on Jan. 1, 2017, against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Wednesday, his attempt to get back in the league and throw another NFL pass brought him to Seattle.
Specifically, to the Dempsey Indoor facility at the University of Washington where Kaepernick spent about 90 minutes throwing passes to a group that included current Seahawk and former Husky Aaron Fuller and former Husky Kamari Pleasant. It was the third workout Kaepernick has conducted in the past nine days with NFL receivers, including a session in Arizona last week with Seahawk Tyler Lockett.
Afterward, Kaepernick — who has given few interviews during his time out of the NFL — stopped briefly to talk to reporters and confirmed he has had conversations with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. He said he hopes to get a tryout with the team but that nothing has happened so far.
“Still waiting for that chance,” Kaepernick said. “Still hopeful. There’s been a lot of conversation around it. Again, we’ve had conversations with Pete and John previously. As Pete mentioned, we have spoken recently and (I’m) still hoping that door is open and get a chance to walk through it.”
Carroll said last Wednesday that Kaepernick had contacted him “the other day” and sent him some videos of workouts. But then, and again on Tuesday on Sports Radio 93.3 KJR FM, Carroll was noncommittal on if the team will bring Kaepernick in for a visit or workout.
“I don’t know that,” Carroll said last week. “He’s making a remarkable bid for it, to sustain his conditioning over the four years that he’s been out, going on five. Who knows? I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Kaepernick held a similar workout Monday in New Orleans. Kaepernick said Fuller contacted him on Tuesday on Instagram to say he was “down to get work in.”
“From there we booked our flight from New Orleans, landed around midnight last night,” Kaepernick said. “Hit the ground running this morning. … Appreciate Aaron making this happen today as well.”
Fuller, who just completed his second season with the Seahawks, had never met Kaepernick.
When asked why he messaged Kaepernick to set up the workout, he responded: “Why not? I needed work. He needs the work. I mean, he’s asking (on social media) where he wants to go (to work out) and I kind of just hit him up to see if he would come out here. Obviously, Russ (Russell Wilson) is gone so I needed a quarterback to catch from and things like that. So a good opportunity for both of us.”
Fuller said a few Seahawks coaches and others in the organization knew he was going to work out with Kaepernick — though he said he had not talked to Carroll or Schneider about it beforehand.
But he plans to tell them what he thought of Kaepernick.
“I’ll put something in their ear,” Fuller said. “I think T-Lock (Lockett) did a little bit too. So they kind of knew I was coming out here to come throw with him, so they wanted me to see how he was and his ability to still throw the ball and move around. So I’ll put a good word in.”
Kaepernick has not been on an NFL roster since the 2016 season, a year in which he began kneeling during the national anthem, jump-starting a movement by athletes of many sports in protest of social inequality and other issues.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March 2017, knowing that the 49ers were going to release him. His only official contact with an NFL team since then was a visit to the Seahawks in May 2017. He did not sign then — Carroll said he deserved to be a starter somewhere and noted that Seattle had a starter in Wilson. There is also some thought the team was worried at the time that Kaepernick might threaten Wilson’s standing in the locker room — Wilson was coming off an injury-riddled 2016 season that was his worst to date.
Seattle planned to bring in Kaepernick for a workout in 2018 but that was initially postponed — and then, didn’t happen — with somewhat conflicting reports as to why. One report stated the Seahawks postponed it when Kaepernick wouldn’t say whether he would continue to kneel during the anthem. The Seahawks’ view is that question was just one of several the team asked Kaepernick about his off-field activities simply in an effort to make sure they knew what his plans were.
Carroll said later that year that wasn’t the specific reason the visit did not happen but did not say why. “That got blown up like that was a big marker,” Carroll said then, adding that the team simply didn’t know where Kaepernick “fits yet.”
Any misunderstanding appears to have been mended as Carroll said in 2020 that he wished the team had signed Kaepernick in 2017 and with Kaepernick having reached out to Seattle recently and stating clearly he’d like to get another shot from the Seahawks.
Kaepernick insisted he hasn’t lost anything during his time away.
“The best way to tell is to bring me in for a workout,” he said. “We have no expectations of what teams will do. But we just want the opportunity to walk in the door and show them what I can do and I think my talent, my skill set, will speak for itself.”
Still, that Kaepernick has not played in five seasons and is now 34 raises the obvious question of if he’s been away too long to still be the same quarterback he was with the 49ers from 2011-16, a stint that included leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season.
Wednesday’s workout did not feature any defenders, but Kaepernick threw a variety of passes — all while being filmed by a member of his crew — hitting Fuller with about a 60-yard deep pass to end one segment of the session, and throwing dozens of shorter and midrange passes as well as deeper routes.
“Kaep still has an arm,” Fuller said. “Any NFL team that needs a quarterback, he is ready. His arm is still there. There is no rust (with) his footwork, his arm.”
Kaepernick called his conversations with Carroll “good” and said Carroll has given him positive feedback.
“He said the workouts look great,” Kaepernick said.
But Seattle also appears high on the potential of Drew Lock, has Jacob Eason on the roster and is expected to at some point re-sign Geno Smith. Rumblings also persist that Seattle could make a run at Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield down the road, though not with taking on all of his current almost $19 million contract.
Kaepernick said he didn’t know where he might work out next but that there will be more as he continues to try to show he’s worthy of another shot.
“More than anything, here (in Seattle) or elsewhere, (I’m) just looking for an opportunity to come in and show them what I can do,” Kaepernick said. “And let the chips fall where they may from there.”