The Redskins’ increasingly makeshift situation at quarterback has done nothing to end questions about why the team has been hesitant to sign Colin Kaepernick. For his part, the noted free agent was reported Sunday to be “ready and willing” to play for Washington.
That’s according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, who cited “two sources close to the former NFL quarterback” in reporting that Kaepernick “would be willing to play for the Redskins as early as next week.”
“He’s a professional Super Bowl-caliber quarterback and in the best shape of his life, and he would play, if given the opportunity, on any NFL team,” a source told Robinson. His report was published shortly after the Redskins were drubbed by the Giants, 40-16, with starting quarterback Mark Sanchez playing poorly before being replaced by Josh Johnson.
Washington actually got a spark from Johnson, who led a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives and will take over as the team’s starter for its Week 15 matchup with the Jaguars. Yet the fact that Johnson, who had not attempted an NFL pass since 2011, was even in the game pointed to the fairly absurd circumstances that have befallen the Redskins at quarterback.
Having lost not only their intended starter, Alex Smith, but also backup Colt McCoy to broken legs in a span of three weeks, the Redskins were forced to turn to Sanchez, who was signed after Smith went down in mid-November. A journeyman who had been used sparingly in recent years, Sanchez had a limited grasp of the playbook when he replaced McCoy last week, and he struggled mightily Sunday before giving way to Johnson.
On Tuesday, coach Jay Gruden said his team had “discussed” the possibility of bringing in Kaepernick for a workout but decided against it. In announcing the addition of Johnson later that day, Gruden cited his connections to the 32-year-old quarterback, who had brief stints with the coach during stops in Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.
“Do we want to go with a guy that’s familiar with my terminology, who we worked out last week … or go with a guy and teach, basically, a whole new kind of offense with new offensive linemen with a lot of the zone reads and all that stuff?” Gruden said. “Not a lot of time to really get a brand new quarterback, a new system installed and taught in a couple days of practice.”
As for the previous signing of Sanchez, Gruden said Tuesday that his team “wanted a guy with a similar skill set with Colt,” who could “come in in a pinch and function a little bit.” He added, “Not that Colin can’t do some of the things I’m talking about. But somebody with a little bit of familiarity.”
Gruden also pointed to Sanchez’s past work with offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and “experience in a pro style offense,” and emphasized the “short week” the Redskins had to prepare whomever they brought in. Gruden said there would have been a “greater possibility” of considering Kaepernick if Washington had a sudden need for a quarterback in Week 1, as opposed to much later in the season.
Kaepernick hasn’t played since the 2016 season, when he threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in 11 games for the 49ers, posting a passer rating of 90.7 and adding 468 yards and two scores on the ground. San Francisco went 1-10 in those games en route to a 2-14 season, but Kaepernick had previously led the 49ers to two straight appearances in the NFC championship game, with one start in the Super Bowl, after the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
He also has better career numbers in passer rating (88.9) and yards per attempt (7.3) than Sanchez (73.7, 6.6) or Johnson (57.7, 5.9), but a source told Robinson that Kaepernick never heard from the Redskins, saying, “No call for a job, no call for a tryout, no calls, period – nothing.”
Earlier Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that “despite multiple teams’ need for quarterbacks throughout the season, not one team has reached out to Kaepernick to gauge his interest or arrange a workout,” per a league source. The 31-year-old quarterback filed a grievance against the NFL last year, accusing team owners of colluding to keep him unemployed as punishment for his social activism, particularly his role in originating player protests against racial injustice during the national anthem.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has reportedly been in favor of mandating that players stand during the anthem, but Gruden said Tuesday that the team opted to bypass Kaepernick for “strictly football” reasons. Kaepernick attorney Mark Geragos disputed that characterization, though, asking The Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland, “Isn’t it obvious what’s happening?”