(AP) — Colin Kaepernick is getting his first chance to work out for an NFL team since last playing in the league in 2016, when he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Two people familiar with the situation said Kaepernick will work out for the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the workout plans. ESPN first reported that the Raiders were bringing in Kaepernick.
Kaepernick hasn’t played since the end of the 2016 season when he was cut by San Francisco when the new regime led by coach Kyle Shanahan wanted to go a different direction at quarterback.
Kaepernick never got another opportunity even to work out for NFL teams as he alleged he had been blackballed over his protests during the anthem the previous season. He met with Seattle and had informal talks with Baltimore but never got a closer look.
He filed a grievance with the NFL in 2017 over his lack of opportunity and settled it in 2019 — but still never got another look.
The Raiders have been at the forefront on diversity over their history, hiring Tom Flores as the second coach of Hispanic descent, Art Shell as the first Black coach in modern history, and Amy Trask as the first female CEO.
Owner Mark Davis has publicly said he would back his coaches if they wanted to take a look at Kaepernick, and first-year coach Josh McDaniels is doing just that.
The Raiders don’t have a glaring need at quarterback after signing starter Derek Carr to an extension last month. Las Vegas also signed Nick Mullens as a backup this offseason, traded for Jarrett Stidham and signed Chase Garbers as an undrafted free agent.
But none of those backups has the pedigree of Kaepernick, who emerged as one of the league’s young stars when he took over as starter in San Francisco in 2012, and helped the Niners reach the Super Bowl that season.
Kaepernick’s play started to regress in 2014 and he got hurt halfway through the next season and lost his starting job. Things changed the next preseason when Kaepernick began protesting during the national anthem, drawing the ire of critics that included then presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Kaepernick regained his starting job in 2016 and threw 16 TD passes and four interceptions in 12 games, while posting a 90.7 passer rating.