The first wave of NFL off-season talent acquisition was the first round of free agency, which is when the most coveted targets re-sign or move to other teams.
The second wave was the draft, which recently concluded. The final wave takes place in the summer months after teams make their final cuts before the new season begins. This is when salary-cap casualties and less-coveted players get reshuffled.
Two household names might find themselves sitting at home after the third wave subsides.
Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick have yet to land on NFL rosters. Cutler has played in a Pro Bowl and an NFC Championship game, and compiled gaudy passing numbers of his career.
Colin Kaepernick dazzled when he usurped Alex Smith’s hold on the starting quarterback job, and led the San Francisco 49ers to back-to-back NFC Championship games, including one trip to the Super Bowl.
Despite the past accolades, neither player has garnered much interest around the league.
From a Sports Illustrated article:
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed during draft coverage that Cutler had interest in playing for the Texans, but the team wouldn’t return his calls. So, what’s that leave for the ex-Bear? If Cutler doesn’t opt for retirement, the options are rather limited, mainly to teams that missed out on a QB at the draft—the Jets still stand out. Otherwise, perhaps he latches on somewhere around training camp
The Kaepernick debate long ago stretched beyond merely what he can or cannot do on the field, but also keep in mind a report by ESPN’s Dan Graziano that Kaepernick was looking for $9-10 million per year. If those possible demands have lowered by now, Kaepernick at least played well enough last season to warrant a look.
Things have slowly gone downhill for both signal-callers. Cutler developed a reputation for being a gunslinger, which led to scores of teeth-gnashing interceptions. He has been labeled a bad teammate for criticizing his porous offensive line.
It didn’t help matters when Cutler took himself out of the 2010 NFC Championship game against the hated rival Green Bay Packers. The Bears lost at home while Cutler sat on the sideline.
In his defense, Cutler had a legitimate knee injury that required surgery, but the fact he didn’t get the benefit of the doubt spoke to how disliked he was by the fans and the media.
Colin Kaepernick’s play declined after his scintillating first two seasons as the starter. In his third year, Kaepernick’s warts as an unpolished passer were exposed.
He took several unnecessary sacks due to poor pocket presence, and his completion percentage sank like a rock.
Kaepernick was ultimately benched for Blaine Gabbert, who had busted as a high first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Things went from bad to worse when Kaepernick became known for his politics; he refused to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner in protest of police brutality and oppression of black people.
Kaepernick’s political message was muddled by a series of odd choices. First, he wore socks depicting police officers as cartoon pigs.
Then he wore a tee-shirt with a picture of communist dictator Fidel Castro, seemingly oblivious to or willfully dismissive of Castro’s atrocities.
Finally, he disclosed that he refused to vote in the elections. Even if he didn’t like any of the national candidates, he could’ve voted on local politicians and judges, but defiantly chose not to do so.
As the new NFL season slowly approaches, teams will have to decide if the mediocre play of both quarterbacks is worth the baggage they bring.
If the calculus doesn’t come up in their favor, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick could find themselves involuntarily retired with gas still in the tank.