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Why the Eagles signed Josh McCown instead of Colin Kaepernick

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And no, it’s not what you’re thinking!

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers

Whichever side of the fence you find yourself on, Colin Kaepernick has become quite the divisive public figure over the past few years. Some argue that Kaepernick should be banned from the league for [insert one of the many reasons we’ve all heard] while the others state that he has plenty left in the tank but will not be signed because of [insert one of the many reasons we’ve all heard]. The truth, as is usually the case, is somewhere in the middle. Here are the reasons Colin Kaepernick was not signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

He is too expensive

Per the Associated Press, back in February when the AAF (RIP) was about to begin, “a person with knowledge of the conversation” said that Kapernick was asking for “$20 million or more to consider playing [in the AAF].” Here is a list of NFL quarterbacks who are signed to contracts worth $20 million or more, per Over The Cap (sorted by AAV):

  • Matt Ryan
  • Russell Wilson
  • Jimmy Garoppolo
  • Matt Stafford
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Wentz
  • Derek Carr
  • Andrew Luck
  • Cam Newton
  • Andy Dalton
  • Alex Smith
  • Nick Foles
  • Eli Manning
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Philip Rivers
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Joe Flacco
  • Drew Brees
  • Kyler Murray
  • Baker Mayfield
  • Sam Darnold
  • Mitchell Trubisky
  • Jared Goff
  • Daniel Jones
  • Jameis Winston
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Tom Brady
  • Josh Allen

Of these 28 players, 27 are currently the starting quarterback for their team. The outlier, Daniel Jones, is an heir apparent. There is quite simply no circumstance that would lead to the Eagles signing a backup quarterback for $20 million right now. The Eagles ultimately got Josh McCown at a fraction of this price by inking him to a contract that has a maximum payout of $5.4 million.

He has not played football since January 1, 2017

Given that he has not played football in 2 12 years, it is safe to assume that Kaepernick, just as anyone out of work for 2 12 years, will need some time to get back into the swing of things. Even if he has kept in great shape physically, the physical component of being a professional athlete is just one of many variables that lead to success or failure. Between learning Doug Pederson’s offensive and developing the required chemistry with his new teammates, Kaepernick would likely need, at a minimum, a few weeks if not a month to be game-ready. Conversely, McCown has played in every season since Kaepernick’s last game.

Also, and more importantly, Kaepernick was hardly even league average when he played last. Here is a summary of his stats in 2016, his last full season:

  • Completion %: 59.2 (t-29th)
  • Yards per Attempt: 6.8 (t-27th)
  • Passer Rating: 90.7 (19th)
  • PFF Grade: 57.8 (29th)

For comparison, here is Josh McCown’s stat line from 2016:

  • Completion %: 54.5 (38th)
  • Yards per Attempt: 6.7 (t-29th)
  • Passer Rating: 72.3 (33rd)
  • PFF Grade: 55.7 (33rd)

Now, if you want to argue that Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Josh McCown, I am not going to stop you, as it may be true. The thing is, however, neither have been good quarterbacks in recent years.

He might not even be interested in joining the Eagles

Kaepernick publicly backed Eric Reid after the Carolina Panthers safety called Malcolm Jenkins a “sellout” and a “neo-colonialist.” Would he really want to come be Jenkins’ teammate? And even if he did, would the Eagles want to create a locker room dynamic where they’re adding a quarterback who previously endorsed criticism of a current team captain?

The Eagles were never going to sign Colin Kaepernick

If you want to ignore these key factors, and argue that the team should have signed him, feel free. If you think that the only reason the Eagles won’t give him a chance is related to his National Anthem protesting, have at it. The honest-to-goodness truth, however, is that Kaepernick has not been a quality NFL quarterback for years. He would probably make for a solid backup, if he did not come with a $20 million price tag. McCown was a more affordable veteran option for the team, though, and that’s why they chose him.