Shane Dunaway: It’s time to sign Colin Kaepernick

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2022

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With the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching, 32 NFL front offices are putting the finishing touches on draft boards and prepping their respective war rooms for the uncertainty that comes with the annual selection process.

For teams in need of or seriously considering a quarterback prospect, this is not the best year to be looking.

When I look at the pool of available quarterbacks in this draft, it brings back memories of the 2013 draft where the Buffalo Bills reached for Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel with the 18th overall pick.

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With this year’s slate of passers, there’s no real blue-chip prospect. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis could be the next dual-threat darling, but I have a gut feeling he could end up being the next Manuel, drafted too early to a team unable to capitalize on his skillset.

Then there’s Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, potentially the Carolina Panthers’ choice at No. 6 in the draft. I’m just not impressed enough by his career numbers to believe he’s worthy of being picked that high, and he doesn’t really have a signature win under his belt.

Those two seem to be the only names being considered as first-round picks. Who knows where the rest might land as names start flying off the boards?

There aren’t too many teams truly in need of a starting quarterback, but the ones I believe need one, the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, should pursue another avenue, Colin Kaepernick.

Don’t give me the narrative that he doesn’t want to play because the man’s been staying in shape for five-plus years, working out five days a week for an opportunity.

Don’t give me the narrative it’s been too long, because it has been done before. Remember Steve DeBerg? He retired from the Miami Dolphins after the 1993 season and resurfaced five years later with the Atlanta Falcons.

Kaepernick recently said after his workout at the University of Michigan that he’d be open to coming back as a backup, so why not sign him to a one-year, incentive-based deal?

Here’s how I would structure this hypothetical deal if I was a general manager:

• $8 million fully-guaranteed base salary, comparable to the per-year salary of current Chicago Bears backup quarterback Nick Foles, who has similar career numbers and the same number of postseason victories as Kaepernick,

• $100,000 bonus per regular-season start, with another $150,000 per regular-season win,

• $500,000 bonus if the team makes the playoffs,

• $1 million per victory in Wild Card, Divisional and Championship round of playoffs,

• $2 million if he starts and wins the Super Bowl,

• $500,000 if he wins Super Bowl MVP, and

• $500,000 for each of the following NFL accolades if earned – NFL MVP, Comeback Player of the Year or First-team All-Pro.

Under my scenario, if Kaepernick signed that deal, managed to win a starting job, won 12 regular-season games and hit the remainder of those incentives, he’d earn $19 million. With the way quarterback salaries are climbing, $19 million for a Super Bowl win is a bargain.

If he doesn’t start, gets injured or otherwise doesn’t perform well enough to hit those incentives, then you’ve spent at most $8-$11 million on a gamble.

It’s better to take a chance on Kaepernick and reboot with a better draft class next year if he fails than mortgage multiple seasons on a complete unknown.

It’s time to sign Colin.