Could Kaepernick Land in Green Bay? Packers Need an Aaron Rodgers Replacement Fast

Colin Kaepernick is suing the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers need a starting quarterback, pronto, to replace Aaron Rodgers.

Those two facts don’t immediately appear to match up in any kind of way that could make either party happy, other than that Kaepernick needs and deserves, on balance of his talents, a job in the NFL and the Packers need a starting quarterback, pronto, to replace Aaron Rodgers. Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, tweeted out a statement on Monday morning stating that a lawsuit had been filed on behalf of Kaepernick under the terms of the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) alleging “collusion” by NFL teams and owners in failing to sign the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback since he opted out of his contract with that franchise in March. Kaepernick began kneeling last autumn during the playing of the national anthem before 49ers games in protest at police brutality toward black people in the United States by police. The practice has since become widespread in and outside the NFL and has drawn the ire, notably, of President Donald Trump.

If Kaepernick were persona non grata with the NFL before the lawsuit was filed, then a declaration of battle, one might think, would be unlikely to ease the tension. And yet, in the vaguely chromophobic NFL world, winning is everything—especially when a franchise realizes it is no longer in a position to win. In the first quarter of the Packers’ visit to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday evening, an entirely thinkable misfortune occurred. Rodgers shifted to his right, out of the pocket, as is his custom, to throw on the run. Rodgers released the ball but took a huge hit from Anthony Barr, and fell on his collarbone which broke, as collarbones are wont to do when stressed. Brett Hundley, Rodgers’s replacement, couldn’t get the offense moving again; the Packers lost and they will likely lose more unless Hundley transforms into something he has never been or…

“My opinion: The Packers should call Colin Kaepernick on Monday morning. Not necessarily to sign him,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in the aftermath of the Packers’ defeat. King’s argument is entirely logical: The Packers are heavily, overly reliant on Rodgers like no other NFL franchise relies on its starting quarterback in 2017. With Hundley, the season is probably lost, but Kaepernick can hardly be expected to come in straight away and play anything like Rodgers in what is Rodgers’s system, after all. Kaepernick is a very particular kind of quarterback himself, an awkward fact that may have been turned into a chimera by the NFL in its alleged efforts not to sign him. What has worked for Rodgers will not work, immediately, for or with Kaepernick.

But have him learn the offense for a few weeks, King opines, and there is still hope for the Packers’ season. Perhaps not entirely incidentally, Kaepernick is from Wisconsin and grew up idolizing Brett Favre. Sure, it feels more than a touch hypocritical—oh now you, an NFL franchise, turn to Kaepernick after all of the prevarication and discussions and debate, when you could have just as easily signed him in the offseason when it didn’t look this desperate. As if you are admitting through clenched teeth that although you don’t support his stance, you really do need to win a few more games this season. That bloodlessness, again, present in all professional sport and increasingly prevalent, too.

More prosaically, an ongoing lawsuit may make it almost impossible for anyone to now do a deal with Kaepernick. But, hey—didn’t Aaron Rodgers say this in August of this year: "I think he [Kaepernick] should be on a roster right now. I think because of his protests, he's not." But the Packers’ situation has changed since then. Sans Rodgers, are they desperate enough to make what looks like a completely logical decision?

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