Could Colin Kaepernick Be Returning to the NFL or Is New Workout Just a P.R. Stunt?

F ormer 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has essentially been blackballed from the league for his peaceful protest against police brutality and racial injustice, took to Twitter to announce that his representative have been contacted by league officials about a workout in Atlanta on November 16.

“I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday,” tweeted Kaepernick. “I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the workout will include on-field drills and an interview, and that all 32 teams have been invited. Video of the workout and interview will be available to all teams, according to the ESPN Insider. The NFL sent out a memo to every team informing them of the workout, according to ESPN.

"Earlier this year, we discussed some possible steps with his representatives and they recently emphasized his level of preparation and that he is ready to work out for clubs and be interviewed by them,” read the memo posted by ESPN.

“We have therefore arranged this opportunity for him to work out, and for all clubs to have the opportunity to evaluate his current readiness and level of interest in resuming his NFL career."

But by making the workout this Saturday, it has raised questions as to the legitimacy of the session, as teams have little time to prepare to send their GMs and head coaches, and nearly half the teams would be traveling to Sunday road games and all head coaches will be prepping for their Week 11 games. Free agent workouts are typically held on Tuesdays when more executives and coaches can readily attend.

According to ESPN, Kaepernick's representatives, who weren't alerted about the workout until 10 a.m. on November 12, requested the workout indeed be moved to a Tuesday. And when the NFL was asked if the workout could be moved to the following Saturday, November 23, the league said no and did not present a reason, according to ESPN. The New York Times also reports that Kaepernick, 32, was given just two hours to decide on whether he'd be able to attend the workout.

The workout, which according to ESPN's Dan Graziano will be held at the Falcons' training facility in Flowery Branch, Ga., is about a 45-minute drive from Atlanta and will be closed to the media.

According to Graziano, the workout, which will begin at 3 p.m. according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, may be in response to several teams inquiring about the playing status of Kaepernick, and Kaepernick's people having alerted the NFL back on Oct. 10 that they had heard "little to no response" from any of the teams.

This begs the question: If teams are looking to gauge Kaepernick's playing ability, but are not contacting his representatives, and the NFL is now setting up this hastily produced workout at one team's facility and inviting every team to take part, doesn't this suggest there was collusion to keep him out? NFL agent Blake Baratz tweeted as much, posting, Thanks @NFL but I also have players that haven’t been able to get a workout. Would you mind setting up there’s too? The mere fact you are going out of your way to ensure this happens is admitting you colluded to keep him out. This is a charade to save face and pretty embarrassing."

Kaepernick, who last played in the NFL back in 2016, began kneeling during the national anthem that season. His peaceful protest that began with him sitting during "The Star-Spangled Banner" before switching to kneeling, spread about the league and quickly polarized the country, and even drew the ire of President Trump. Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, opted out of the final year of his contract but has yet to be signed by another team.

Kaepernick along with safety Eric Reid, later filed a grievance against the NFL alleging the league and its owners conspired to keep them on the sidelines. Both players eventually settled with the league, the terms of which were not released, and Reid has since signed with the Carolina Panthers.

Kaepernick maintains that he’s kept in playing shape these past three years, working out regularly.