Add Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to the running list of NFL players and coaches supporting Colin Kaepernick.
Newton told reporters Tuesday that he thinks Kaepernick, who played last season for the San Francisco 49ers and remains unsigned, is talented enough to be on a league roster.
“In my opinion, do I think that Kaepernick is better than some of the starting quarterbacks in this league? Absolutely,” Newton said. “Should he be on a roster, in my opinion? Absolutely. There is no question about it.”
Kaepernick has been in national headlines since last season when he sat and then took a knee during the national anthem, moves he later said were in protest to the police shootings of black people and general oppression to people of color.
Since his initial protest at the beginning of last season, Kaepernick – who led the 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl XX appearance as one of the NFL’s most promising young players – has been released by San Francisco. He’s still a free agent, and the question since has become whether that’s because of his football skills or the locker room distraction he might be as an activist.
Newton made his opinion known Tuesday, but who else around the league has spoken out about Kaepernick? We tried to break it down:
▪ Kaepernick’s former coach Jim Harbaugh: “I do believe that (he’s an NFL starter), yes,” he said. “He’s still in his 20s and has been very successful at the NFL level as a starting quarterback.”
▪ Green Bay Packers quarterback and former NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers: “I think he should be on a roster right now,” he said. “I think because of his protests, he’s not.”
▪ Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller: “I think he definitely should be in the National Football League,” he said. “It’s about ‘can you play’ or ‘what can you do for me.’ There’s not 64 quarterbacks that’s better than Colin Kaepernick. That’s just cut and dry. It’s plain and simple.”
▪ Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh: “He’s a really good football player,” he said. “Like I said, I do believe he’ll be playing in the National Football League this year.”
▪ Tennessee Titans tight end and Kaepernick’s former San Francisco teammate Delanie Walker: “I think he should get a shot,” he said. “I think he’ll be able to be on a team.”
▪ Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: “Colin has been a fantastic football player, and he’s going to continue to be,” he said. “But he’s a starter in this league and I can’t imagine that somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
▪ Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett: “I don’t think there’s a football reason for why he hasn’t been signed,” he said. “I’ve said this several times. If you look statistically, he had a great year last year. He’s been to the Super Bowl, been to the NFC championship.”
▪ Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: “He would be a starter on probably 20 of the teams in this league,” he said. “But you’re telling me that you’re going to let other guys, you’re going to pick up some of these other guys and tell me that they’re starters?”
▪ San Francisco running back and Kaepernick’s former teammate Carlos Hyde: “I’ve seen some quarterbacks [that] got signed that Kap is way better than, in my opinion,” he said. “But I’m not a GM. I’m not a head coach. So that’s out of my league.”
▪ San Francisco linebacker and Kaepernick’s former teammate Navorro Bowman: “I think he’s proven that he can play at this level,” he said. “He’s made a choice that’s kind of had a little backlash from it. But I think he’ll be fine. Someone will give him a job.”
▪ Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, when asked if he would sign Kaepernick: “Absolutely,” he said.
▪ Former San Francisco quarterback and NFL MVP Joe Montana: “The league has figured out how to defend (the way Kaepernick plays). If I’m playing defense, I want the quarterback to run so I can hit him,” he said. “I’m sure there are some distraction issues.”
▪ Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy: “It’s a lot more than just he’s not on the team because he doesn’t want to stand for the national anthem,” he said. “That may have something to do with it, but I think also it has a lot to do with his play. I’m sure a lot of teams wouldn’t want him as their starting quarterback. That chaos that comes along with it, it’s a lot.”
▪ Kaepernick’s former quarterbacks coach Steve Logan: “It has everything to do with his ability to play in the pocket,” he said. “Because the game has taken away his calling card, which is the zone-read. Defensive coordinators in the NFL will not let you beat them with that football play.”
▪ Jacksonville vice president of football operations and former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, on if the Jaguars would consider signing Kaepernick: “No, I didn’t. We did the study and the research and we weren’t interested,” he said. When asked to explain why not, he added, “No, I’m not explaining it.”