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16 Jun, 2020 12:23

NFL boss Roger Goodell 'encourages' teams to sign outcast Kaepernick... but where could exiled star end up?

NFL boss Roger Goodell 'encourages' teams to sign outcast Kaepernick... but where could exiled star end up?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has given his blessing to any team who wishes to sign firebrand quarterback Colin Kaepernick amid the ongoing 'Black Lives Matter' protests.

Kaepernick hasn't appeared in the league since 2016 when he courted international controversy by kneeling in protest of police brutality during the national anthem while he was starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. 

His method of protest took hold, with dozens of fellow NFL players following his lead. However, several figures within the league, as well as sections of supporters, railed against the act for what they saw as disrespect to the flag and the United States armed forces who fought to defend it. 

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This is despite Kaepernick stating on several occasions that his protest had nothing to do with the flag itself, or indeed the armed forces. Instead, Kaepernick said he was told by a former member of the United States Army Special Forces that kneeling would be the most respectful way to note his protest. Kaepernick had remained seated until that point. 

However, despite attempting to make his stance clear Kaepernick's motivations were questioned. President Donald Trump referred to players who kneeled during the national anthem as "sons of b*tches" who should be "fired" for peacefully exercizing their first amendment rights.

Goodell, though, has opted for a more conciliatory tone amid the wave of protests sweeping the United States following the death of unarmed African-American George Floyd while in police custody.

"If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going take a team to make that decision," Goodell told ESPN of Kaepernick's future. 

"I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that.

"If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better," he added later.

As to where Kaepernick could potentially end up, that is anyone's guess. With the league's 32 teams currently in the midst of their 'virtual off-season', a starting QB slot is a rarified commodity. However, several teams would have a backup slot on their roster available which could mean that Kaepernick could be just one injury away from ending his hiatus. 

Perhaps the most suitable team - and the move which would make the biggest statement - would be for the Minnesota Vikings to offer Kaepernick a contract. Minnesota is around 150 miles away from the scene where Floyd lost his life on May 25. 

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Other teams potentially looking to upgrade their quarterback room could be the Jacksonville Jaguars who recently jettisoned Super Bowl winner Nick Foles for second year QB Gardner Minshew, while the status of the New England Patriots starting quarterback still remains a mystery following Tom Brady's departure to Tampa Bay. 

The Seattle Seahawks are also rumored to be interested in securing Kaepernick's services as understudy to Russel Wilson.

Kaepernick's potential return might be complicated by the free agency availability of former NFL MVP Cam Newton, who remains without a contract after leaving the Carolina Panthers at the end of last season.