Former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who has been out of the NFL since 2016, worked out for the Las Vegas Raiders this week with hopes of returning to the NFL. Kaepernick has adamantly stated throughout the years since then that he still intends on playing in the NFL despite five years away from the game. The Seattle Seahawks worked him out back in 2017, and he recently threw in front of NFL scouts during halftime of Michigan’s spring game. However, none of these workouts have led to a team bringing him in.
Reports coming out of Las Vegas are that the Raiders considered Kaepernick’s workout to be “positive,” though no deal is imminent.
The process for a QB like Kaepernick to return to an NFL roster can be strenuous, especially the later you get into it leading up to the season.
Former and current NFL Coaches Chris Palmer, Brian Schottenheimer, and Marty Mornhinweg all understand the challenge of bringing in someone late in the offseason process and discussed this topic with The 33rd Team.
Coach Palmer lays out that throughout each phase of the offseason as coaches, “You are trying to say the same thing over and over and over again and teach your system. Coming in later, you’ve missed that,” he says.
Palmer adds that there is a “double concern” when it comes to the physical aspect of someone coming in late to the process.
“You have missed all the timing and learning the plays and getting a feel for the plays,” Palmer says. “The other thing is that all the other players that have gone through the camp, they’re up to speed, their conditioning is much better. When a player hasn’t been in that phase, and he comes in and tries to keep up with the other players, generally they hurt themselves.”
Coach Schottenheimer has experience with a QB coming into the process late, and particularly recalled when the Jets brought in Brett Favre in August of 2008.
Schottenheimer would start by sitting down with the player to “talk about what they’ve done, what they’ve liked.”
He understood that they were throwing a lot at Favre, so he tried to change things in a way that would help him learn faster, but also be understood by the rest of the offense that has been on the team.
Schottenheimer says that you can still stick to what you want to do philosophically as a staff, however, “Especially if you are talking about a guy who has had success, you are crazy if you don’t at least consider what they did well.”
“For quarterbacks it’s not quite as important in terms of are they in the best shape of their lives, or are they able to complete a practice,” he adds. “You take that into consideration, but it’s not the most important thing. They are going to play themselves into shape”.
As far as the workout itself, Schottenheimer says the first thing he would look for is the arm talent.
“Arm talent to me is accuracy and ball placement. Does he throw the ball that is on the correct shoulder where the receiver is trying to run? Can he control his velocity? Does he have quickness and suddenness with his body?”
These are all pieces that teams try to put together when evaluating a workout.
Former NFL Head Coach Marty Mornhinweg also had a unique experience with bringing in a QB that has taken time off from the game when he worked with Mike Vick as the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.
Mornhinweg believes that the conditioning aspect is paramount to knocking off any rust that may exist.
“Conditioning with the thought that all the conditioning work is going to be football related,” he says.
He adds that it is beneficial to practice drop backs and other techniques even when they are fatigued, as that will help bring them back up to playing speed.
Mornhinweg shares the same perspective as Coach Palmer when discussing the concern for injury for players resuming football activity and conditioning after a long period of being away from the game.
“You have to create opportunities for them. And they have to stay healthy to do all of that. If they go down for a week, they haven’t lost one week, they’ve lost two weeks because of all the extra work that you must put in to play quarterback at a high level.
“There is no substitute for the hard work and preparation that you must put in to play the quarterback position”.
Ultimately, the Raiders are the ones that are going to have to decide whether Kaepernick’s showing during his workout is enough to bring him in for camp.
According to Coach Palmer, “If someone thinks a player can help their team win, they are going to sign him.”
This is the question that the Raiders will be asking themselves.