So why, after the Seahawks hosted Colin Kaepernick in their search for the veteran backup quarterback, did they sign … Austin Davis?
Or, as many fans were asking Monday, “Austin Who?”
Davis made a free-agent visit with Seattle two weeks ago – the same week Kaepernick did. Davis is 28 years old. He has 10 career starts. Two came for Cleveland in 2015, the last season he appeared in a game. Eight were for the St. Louis Rams in 2014. One of those Rams starts was a win over Seattle, Oct. 19, 2014, 28-26 at St. Louis. Davis spent last season on the bench for the Denver Broncos.
Monday, the Seahawks signed him to battle second-year man Trevone Boykin for the No. 2 job behind Russell Wilson. Seattle released quarterback Jake Heaps when it announced Monday’s signing of Davis, just before the fourth organized-team-activity practice of the last two weeks.
Seattle will be Davis’ fourth team in six NFL seasons.Why not go with the far-more-accomplished Kaepernick? Why does the former Super Bowl starter with the San Francisco 49ers remain unemployed?
To hear coach Pete Carroll tell it, it’s not because of money or Kaepernick’s social activism or him kneeling in protest during national anthems before games.
It is, the coach said, because Kaepernick is a starter the Seahawks do not need. Not with Wilson entrenched as their $87.6 million face and cornerstone of the franchise.
“He’s a starter. And we have a starter,” Carroll said Friday of Kaepernick.
The Seahawks remain the only team known to be interested enough in the controversial 29-year-old to even give him a look in free agency since he and the 49ers parted ways in January.
“But he’s a starter in this league,” Carroll said, “and I can’t imagine somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
It’s just not going to be the Seahawks – even though they may fit Kaepernick best in offensive style, locker-room support and championing of individuality and outspokenness.
The implication of what Carroll said Friday seemed clear. Seattle was offering minimum, backup money for a veteran of the game’s biggest stages that thinks he’s worthy of more starter-like money – if not a starting job in the league.
Carroll refused to comment on contract specifics the team discussed with Kaepernick, a starter the last five years for San Francisco.
There is, of course, more to it with Kaepernick.
On Monday, just after the Seahawks signed Davis, Kaepernick retweeted this tweet from Mike Freeman, an NFL columnist for Bleacher Report: “The story that Kaepernick isn’t being signed because of his salary demands is a lie. It’s a straight up lie.”
On Monday, before Davis signed, Seahawks top wide receiver Doug Baldwin was asked on Sirius XM satellite radio how Kaepernick would be received in Seattle’s locker if he were to be the backup QB.
“Regardless of what’s happened in the past, regardless of what’s been out in the media, anything that been discussed, we wouldn’t treat him any differently,” Baldwin said, a few minutes after saying he and his teammates “celebrate individuality” in their locker room.
“From what I understand, from everything I’ve heard, he’s nothing but a great guy in the locker room, a team guy,” said Baldwin, who met with Kaepernick last year when both players were taking stances on social issues.
“And players love him because of his work ethic. So with all those attributes, I don’t think he would not fit into our locker room. And, again, we having a very welcoming, inviting locker room. ... If he was on our team, I would welcome him with open arms.”
If Carroll is taken at his word – and if it’s true money was not a factor, an assertion that, again, Kaepernick himself retweeted Monday –then what’s left? Is it that Kaepernick is too accomplished, too good, for the Seahawks to want him behind or paired with Wilson? Signing Davis keeps Wilson so far ahead of everyone else on the roster at number one there is no issue with the backup.
No issue, of any kind.
Or is it something else, part of why Kaepernick remains unsigned by anyone in the league?
The mere talk of Kaepernick possibly signing with Seattle fit Carroll’s preference to be seen as a leader and supporter of strong, outspoken individuals who win while going against the NFL’s norms.
Debate rages on 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 in response to his kneeling during national anthems before games last season, his protest of social injustice. 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 four 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, 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.
Consider: Mike Glennon got $16 million guaranteed from Chicago and even Kaepernick’s former backup, Blaine Gabbert, now has a job in Arizona.
Asked Friday if Kaepernick is indeed a starter in the NFL why he remains unsigned, 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…
“But as of right now, we know what we’re doing.”
And they are doing it with Austin Davis competing with Boykin behind Wilson.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle