May 26, 2022 - 12:23 pm
Updated May 26, 2022 - 3:01 pm
The Raiders opened their first OTA practice to the media on Thursday, and among the most notable absences was a player that might never land on their roster.
But that didn’t mean Colin Kaepernick wasn’t a big topic of discussion, a day after the Raiders opened a door to Kaepernick for a possible return to the NFL when they worked him out at their facility on Wednesday.
The workout represented the closest Kaepernick has been to professional football since being banished from the NFL after the 2016 season, when he took a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
Nearly seven years later, the Raiders are evaluating Kaepernick with an eye on adding him to their roster. The decision will rest entirely on the Raiders’ belief that Kaepernick can help their team, and the sense is they are looking at him only in a backup quarterback role behind Derek Carr.
It doesn’t appear — as of now, anyway — that they view Kaepernick as a situational player who can be featured in specific packages during games.
For now, Raiders officials are keeping a tight lid on what they saw when Kaepernick took the field. Coach Josh McDaniels said general manager Dave Ziegler has worked out many players this spring.
“We really don’t make comments about the evaluations that we’ve made or what they look like or what they didn’t look like, strengths and weaknesses, those kinds of things are kind of private between us,” McDaniels said.
Asked about the motivation to work out Kaepernick, McDaniels said the Raiders are leaving no stone unturned in improving the roster.
“We’ve said it from Day 1 that we would look at every opportunity,” McDaniels said. “He’s not the first player that we looked at, not the last one. There’s going to be a lot of players that come in and out of this building and try to make an impression.”
The current backup quarterbacks are veterans Nick Mullens and Jarrett Stidham and undrafted rookie free agent Chase Garbers.
Stidham was acquired in a trade with New England, where he played under McDaniels, then the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, for the last three years. Mullens has played four seasons in the NFL, three of which were with the San Francisco 49ers, and has made 17 career starts.
Neither has the wealth of experience of Kaepernick, who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012.
The biggest question is whether Kaepernick can shake off the rust of five inactive seasons and provide an upgrade to their roster. With owner Mark Davis saying multiple times he would approve of signing Kaepernick if his football decision-makers recommend it, it does not appear there will be any hurdles involving off-field distractions.