I haven’t paid much attention to the Colin Kaepernick drama that has played out over the last year. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback went from a near Super Bowl champion in 2013 to unemployed this off-season. Along the way, he started a firestorm unlike any we’ve ever seen by opting to kneel for the national anthem. As teams return to the practice field for training camp, Kap has been the center of attention because despite his credentials and potential, he is still a free agent. Many NFL experts have said the reason was the protests, which Kaepernick has said he will discontinue this season. As I said before, I’ve mainly glossed over Kaepernick news, but that changed this week.
According to a Bleacher Report article, coach John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens (one of my favorite teams) said that they’re entertaining the idea of adding Colin Kaepernick as a quarterback due to current starter Joe Flacco’s recent back problems. The next day, the Ravens did add another quarterback in the unproven David Olson, though the team has yet to rule out Kaepernick as an option. I’m not a Kaepernick superfan, but I have three words for general manager Ozzie Newsome: Get It Done.
Reason Number One: Injury Insurance. Joe Flacco has struggled the past two seasons, in large part to injuries to his knee and back. The back issues have flared up again this summer and Flacco will miss at least a week and possibly more. Should the issue bleed into the season, Baltimore will need a Week 1 starter that can get them an immediate win over Cincinnati, and current backups Dustin Vaughn and Ryan Mallett would be no match for the Ravens’ AFC North foe. Colin Kaepernick is the best quarterback available on the market and possibly the best free agent for any position, and signing Kaepernick would give the Ravens a player with four seasons under his belt, including a Super Bowl appearance against Baltimore in 2013. Additionally, Kaepernick would be a significant improvement over Mallett for the backup position and would be a capable starter if Flacco is injured at any point during the season.
Reason Number Two: Familiarity. Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows a bit about Colin Kaepernick- he coached against Kaepernick’s 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII and is the brother of then-49er coach Jim Harbaugh. Offensive assistant and run game coordinator Greg Roman, added to the team this offseason, was the offensive coordinator during the 49ers’ glory days in the early 2010s and turned Kaepernick from an unheralded backup to the next big thing in the 2012 season. Kaepernick possesses rare abilities as a dual-threat quarterback and fit well into what Roman brings to the table this year.
Reason Number Three: Superstar Potential. This reason is last, but to me it is the one that makes me most excited. Colin Kaepernick was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during the 2012 season, and though he has regressed, he is still capable of being a starting quarterback and has sky-high potential. In the midst of an NFC-worst 2-14 season last year in San Francisco, Kaepernick started 12 games and tallied 16 touchdown passes to 4 interceptions with a 90.7 passer rating and a strong 468 rushing yards. Those aren’t record-breaking numbers by any means, but they indicate that Kap can still play. If the Ravens sign Kaepernick, the addition could go one of two ways. One, Flacco returns to the field and Kaepernick assumes the backup role. There would be a bit of a quarterback controversy for sure, but the pressure on Flacco is necessary given his mediocre play since the Ravens won the Super Bowl five seasons ago. Two, Flacco misses extended time or loses the starting role and Kaepernick becomes the Ravens’ quarterback. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone other than Joe Flacco taking snaps under center for Baltimore, but Kaepernick would bring a spark to a stagnant offense. Not only would he ignite the dismal Baltimore rushing attack, but in a more stable team environment with his former offensive coordinator, Kaepernick could reinvent himself and be a force once again. Either way, the Ravens’ offense improves.
These three reasons are valid and should be enough, but the odds are that Kaepernick doesn’t sign with the Ravens. The obvious reason is money, because Kap will want starter money and the Ravens are a bit cap-crunched due to Joe Flacco’s massive contract. Second is a point I touched on earlier- a possible quarterback controversy. The Ravens have been loyal to Joe Flacco to a fault and aren’t even considering supplanting him as a starter. But the elephant in the room is the view of Colin Kaepernick as a controversial figure. His anthem protests stirred up the American public, even inciting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to make remarks, and for a team that has the Ray Rice scandal in its rearview mirror, this acquisition could be seen as a gamble financially and in the locker room. I don’t think that any of these obstacles should prevent Kaepernick from a move to the East Coast, but more likely than not, they’ll play a role.
The Baltimore Ravens are a fringe playoff team and are in desperate need of a dangerous offense to complement their elite defense. Adding Colin Kaepernick is a move with low on-field risks but potentially huge rewards that could elevate the Ravens’ offense to the top of the division. Get It Done.