Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played a game in the NFL since 2016, but he has stated many times he has an interest in playing football.
The former 49ers quarterback made headlines during the preseason in 2016 when he sat for the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice and systematic oppression in the United States. He became a free agent after the season and went unsigned. In 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league. In 2019, he withdrew the grievance after reaching a settlement.
While NFL owners decided not to sign Kaepernick, the free agent quarterback has expressed a desire to return. Last year, the NFL planned a public workout for Kaepernick and invited all 32 teams to attend. The workout fell apart, though for various reasons. Kaepernick did continue the showcase, but it no longer became an NFL-hosted event.
“When you go back, tell your owners to stop being scared,” Kaepernick told scouts after his workout.
After three seasons of not being in the NFL, it seems unlikely Kaepernick will ever get another chance in that league. So why not showcase his talents in the XFL and prove he’s still the dominant quarterback he once was? There’s an easy explanation.
Why isn’t Colin Kaepernick in the XFL?
In February of 2019, Sporting News reported Kaepernick was seeking “at least $20 million” to play in the XFL. The new football league is willing to pay more for quarterbacks, but not that much. The highest-paid players make just shy of $500,000 in the XFL. Not even some starting quarterbacks in the NFL make that much.
Sports Illustrated’s Dan Greene spoke with XFL commissioner Oliver Luck in March of 2019, and that $20 million figure was brought up.
Then there’s Colin Kaepernick. The former 49ers passer was on Luck’s list of possible quarterbacks, so the commissioner contacted Kaepernick’s agent. He says he was told the QB was seeking a $20 million contract. “That’s a little bit out of our range,” says Luck. With salary a nonstarter, the conversation never turned to the conflict between McMahon’s anthem policy and Kaepernick’s protests of police brutality and racial injustice.
Luck made similar comments to the Tampa Bay Times in December.
“I think his salary demands are way out of our ballpark,” Luck said. “He was never really a viable option.”
Did Colin Kaepernick’s protest play a role?
Kaepernick’s grievance against the NFL claims that the league is keeping him out due to his protest. But did his protest play a role in why he’s not playing in the XFL? As far as we can tell the answer is no, simply because discussions didn’t get that far.
Luck seemed somewhat interested in having Kaepernick play in his league, but the quarterback’s salary demands were so high that there was no point in even considering him as an option.
If Kaepernick’s salary demands had fit with the XFL’s vision, then there would have been an interesting conversation. When Luck was announced as league commissioner, he publicly stated that players will be required to stand for the anthem.
“We respect individual freedoms,” Luck told Bleacher Report. “But we will require our players to stand for the national anthem.”
— SPORTING NEWS