What's next on the Colin Kaepernick front, in lieu of his settlement with the NFL in the so-called 'collusion' lawsuit?
Pundits can now turn their attention to where Kaepernick might play next, assuming the 31-year-old quarterback/activist craves a return to pro ball.
(We're talking NFL-quality ball here ... not the startup Alliance of American Football.)
11Alive Sports offers up seven potential destinations for Kaepernick, who hasn't thrown an NFL pass in roughly 26 months.
For this countdown, we'll address Kaepernick's most plausible options from 'Most Probable' to 'Least Probable' – even though each submission has more feasibility than, say, the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Chiefs, Rams, Saints, Texans, Chargers, Eagles, Lions, Vikings, Bears, Browns ... or any team which already has a franchise signal-caller or a high-end talent with an entry-level contract.
a) If the experts in Las Vegas were handicapping this process, the Panthers would probably garner odds-on-favorite status.
How so? Well ...
b) ... Cam Newton may be the entrenched starter for another 10 years, but there's no guarantee of him being ready for Week 1, coming off major shoulder surgery.
As such, Kaepernick could be a seamless insurance policy for the Panthers, who would also experience a Q-rating bump with the move.
c) In signing Kaepernick, new Panthers owner David Tepper would likely draw a free pass from the Carolina fans and media, given the severity of Newton's injury and the franchise's willingness to make a splash, nationally.
d) Kaepernick likely wouldn't require much assimilation time with the Panthers, given Newton's similar preferences for pocket passing, read-option plays and designed runs straight up the middle.
a) Dolphins fans may be ready to move on from Ryan Tannehill, even though the former first-round pick has a five-year average of 3,428 yards passing, 22 touchdowns and completion rate of nearly 64 percent.
b) There would be a flood of hype surrounding Kaepernick, wherever he landed. However, of the seven clubs listed here, the lowest expectations for imminent greatness might involve the Dolphins.
Which brings us to this ...
d) Kaepernick would likely have a good rapport with Miami offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea and quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.
He might also help bring consistency to the Dolphins' corps of uber-athletic, yet inconsistent playmakers: Running back Kenyan Drake, tight end Mike Gesicki and wideouts DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Danny Amendola.
a) The Redskins are likely the most desperate team for a veteran quarterback savior.
b) Hypothetically speaking, let's say the Redskins absorb the major cap hit of cutting Smith after June 1 (instead of spreading it out multiple years) ... to the tune of $42 million in 'dead' money.
Either Colt McCoy (Smith's backup last season) or Kaepernick would represent the stopgap favorites for Week 1, while Washington scrambles to rectify its salary-cap situation for 2020.
c) Redskins head coach Jay Gruden might enjoy the creative challenge of designing a versatile system around Kaepernick's talents.
Bottom line: They need a drawing card, even if it's a one-year stopgap ... someone who could cleverly divert attention from Washington imploding in 2019, as a means of securing a top-3 draft pick the following spring.
NEW YORK GIANTS
a) The marketing potential with Kaepernick and New York City would be absurd, compared to the other markets.
b) Eli Manning might be the Giants' starter for one more offseason, but that's no guarantee beyond September.
If New York doesn't draft a high-end rookie in April (first or second round), Kaepernick (six years younger than Manning) could give the franchise some breathing room, in terms of finding a long-term option at quarterback.
c) Kaepernick has averaged only 6.8 interceptions over his last four playing seasons (2013-16).
This mistake-free approach could be a short-term boon to the Giants, who are loaded with playmakers (Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram).
a) The Jaguars will likely remain an erratic cauldron of mediocrity, as long as Blake Bortles holds down the starting spot at quarterback.
Not enough highs ... and too many lows for Bortles, who has incurred double dips with passing yards and passing touchdowns over three consecutive seasons.
Of course, who's to say that Kaepernick, at age 31, wouldn't be as topsy-turvy as Bortles?
Charting their last four seasons, both quarterbacks own identical completion rates of 59.4 percent. Ouch.
b) A conservative Kaepernick (averaged only 6.8 interceptions from 2013-16) would be an intriguing fit for the Jaguars offense, which isn't built for 30-plus passes every Sunday.
c) The Jaguars had a capacity-seating rate of 98.3 percent last season (Jacksonville/England). The addition of Kaepernick, from a hype perspective, would likely bring that capacity rate to 100 percent.
Of equal importance, with Kaepernick in the fold, the Jaguars' jersey sales would likely rocket to the top of the NFL charts, if for just one season.
a) Heading into Year 5 with the Titans, quarterback Marcus Mariota has yet to a play a full 16-game campaign.
At the very least, Kaepernick would serve as necessary insurance for a three- or four-game window.
b) From a continuity standpoint, the offensive systems (and subsequent game plans) for Mariota and Kaepernick might only have subtle differences during the season.
c) Attendance-wise last year, the Titans ranked in the bottom-third for average crowd size and seating capacity.
How is this the case? Tennessee has a playoff-worthy talent; the roster just doesn't have much buzz.
As such, Kaepernick's presence, even in a limited role, would surely boost the Titans' Q rating.
a) The Broncos were reportedly interested in trading for Kaepernick three years ago; and John Elway's still calling the shots in Denver.
This would be an interesting fit, pairing Kaepernick and recent acquisition Joe Flacco on the same roster.
(Case Keenum would be waived or traded in this hypothetical.)
What makes it so interesting? Six years ago, Flacco and Kaepernick played starring roles in one of this century's greatest Super Bowls; and now, they could be having daily duels in Denver.
b) The tag team of Kaepernick and Flacco – regardless of how it shakes out – would likely buy Elway and the Broncos' brass another year, within their perpetual quest to draft and develop a long-term quarterback.