RENTON The Seahawks didn’t sign Colin Kaepernick because he would not be the starter here that they -- and assuredly he -- think he should be in the NFL.
That’s the essence of what coach Pete Carroll said Friday following the Seahawks’ first organized-team-activity practice open to the Seattle media. It was a week after Kaepernick made a free-agent visit to the Seahawks -- but left in the same situation the controversial former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl quarterback remains today: unsigned.
“It was another opportunity to keep abreast of what’s available to help our team,” Carroll said of the Seahawks’ exploring making Kaepernick Seattle’s backup to franchise QB Russell Wilson.
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“Colin’s been a fantastic football player. And he’s going to continue to be. This time, we didn’t do anything with it. But we know where he is and who he is, and we had a chance to understand him much more so.
“He’s a starter in this league, you know. And we have a starter.
“But he’s a starter in this league, and I can’t imagine somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
Carroll refused to comment on contract specifics the team discussed with Kaepernick, a starter the last five years for San Francisco.
He didn’t have to comment. The inference was clear: Seattle was offering minimum, backup money for a 29-year-old veteran of the game’s biggest stage that thinks he’s worthy of more starter-like money -- if not a starting job in the league.
There is, of course, more to it with Kaepernick.
Seattle is the only team known to be even remotely interested in signing him. So his desire to accept or reject whatever the Seahawks offered him in the lower range of QB salaries -- say, less than $3 million per year -- was always going to be the determinant as to whether he signed here. When he didn’t, the Seahawks kept shopping for backups that would fit their price. They still are shopping.
Carroll said last month his Seahawks are looking at Kaepernick, former Washington Redskins and Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III and every other available quarterback as Seattle seeks competition with Trevone Boykin for the backup job in 2017.
Boykin played more than expected last season for Seattle as an undrafted rookie, after issues on the offensive line caused Wilson to get injured for the first time in his career: a high-ankle sprain and sprained knee ligament in the first three games. Boykin has spent this offseason in legal trouble in Texas.
The rampant talk of Kaepernick possibly signing with Seattle fits Carroll’s preference to be seen as a leader and supporter of strong, outspoken individuals who win while going against the NFL’s norms.
There is much debate nationally whether Kaepernick remains unemployed because he wants to be a starter or wants starter-like money no team wants to offer him -- or because teams are blackballing him out of the league. That is in response to his kneeling during national anthems before games last season, his protest of social injustice in our country. Seahawks star Richard Sherman is one who believes the latter.
The total truth may lie somewhere in between those two views.
Yet it remains curious a quarterback four years and three months removed from starting and just missing winning a Super Bowl, who came a tipped pass by Sherman in the end zone in Seattle from starting a second Super Bowl for San Francisco, a man who threw 16 touchdown passes against just four interceptions for an absolutely awful 49ers team last season, has not signed a contract to at least be a backup for anyone in 2017.
Especially while guys like Mike Glennon get $16 million guaranteed from Chicago and even Kaepernick’s former backup, Blaine Gabbert, gets a job in Arizona.
Asked if he felt Kaepernick is indeed a starter in the NFL why he remains unemployed, Carroll said: “That’s not my issue.
“We brought him in here to check him out, and we know what we are doing with him. I think it was very productive for us to get to know him better.”
When I asked Carroll if the Seahawks’ interest in Kaepernick was past tense or if the door remains open to possibly signing him, Carroll said: “The door’s are always open to opportunities. We’re just going to try to do the best we can whenever the opportunity presents itself. And we’ll see.
“But as of right now, we know what we’re doing.”
What they are doing is going with what they had this time last year: Wilson starting, Boykin backing up, and former Skyline High School state champion Jake Heaps as the preseason No. 3 QB.