Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wrote a letter to New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas saying he “would be honored and extremely grateful for the opportunity to come in and lead the practice squad,” according to a social post released Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- The letter was released by rapper J. Cole on Instagram, with Kaepernick’s permission, and is dated Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023.
- In regards to leading the practice squad, Kaepernick said, “I would do this with the sole mission of getting your defense ready each week.”
- Kaepernick continued, saying it would give the Jets’ starting defense “a truer read on the more mobile/athletic/versatile quarterbacks” they will face over their next three games in Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Jalen Hurts.
- The Jets have struggled since losing QB Aaron Rodgers, 39, to a season-ending Achilles tear early in the first game of the regular season.
Kaepernick’s full letter
I hope this letter finds you in great spirits, despite the less-than-ideal start to a big season,” he said in the letter. “I’m wishing you, your staff, and the players a great game this weekend as you look to bounce back.
I’m writing, of course, in response to the unfortunate loss of Aaron Rodgers. I know the aspirations this season were, and still are, to win a championship, and so that Hall of Fame sized hole will need to be filled as best as possible to keep the team on a Super Bowl track. As of right now, Zach Wilson is charged with that task, and I wish him and the rest of the team the best moving forward.
However, I know that there are currently depth issues at the position, and I’ve heard that the back-up spot is likely to be filled by a veteran Quarterback. As much as I would love the opportunity to fill that spot, I’m writing you in hopes that you can imagine a much different approach involving me; I would be honored and extremely grateful for the opportunity to come in and lead the practice squad. I would do this with the sole mission of getting your defense ready each week. If I were able to fill this role for the team, I believe this allows for multiple things.
1. It gives your Defense the advantage of getting a truer read on the more mobile/athletic/versatile quarterbacks it will face when in weeks 4, 5 and 6 (Mahomes, Wilson, and Hurts). I would consider it a privilege to be able to do this and would take on this responsibility with the dedication and passion as if it were the QB1 position.
2. This would also allow you guys as an organization to take a real look at where I’m at football wise, in game-like situations against an elite defense, while also not putting any competitive pressure on Zach. I understand the importance of keeping him confident and focused as QB1, and I would only look to boost that confidence in any interactions that we may have if I was given this role within the team.
In a perfect world for the Jets, Zach Wilson finds his stride and shows that he is able to lead this championship caliber team that you’ve put together to the Super Bowl. I believe a confident Zach Wilson has the tools to do this. However, in the event that this is not the case, I would love to offer you a risk-free contingency plan.
I am sure of my ability to provide you with an elite QB option if, God forbid, QB1 goes down. However, I know that there may naturally be uncertainties from you and possibly from others about my playing abilities. This plan, I believe, allows me to be of great service to the team as a practice squad QB, while also giving you a low-commitment chance to assess my capabilities to help in any other capacity you may see fit.
Worst case scenario, you see what I have to offer and you’re not that impressed. Best case scenario, you realize you have a real weapon at your disposal in the event you ever need to use it. In either of these scenarios, I would be committed to getting your defense ready week in and week out, all season long, and I would wear that responsibility like a badge of honor.
As a final point, I would like to add this. Unlike many of the veteran QB’s that have been named in the media, I’ve never retired or stopped training. My training schedule has remained the same for 6 years; Monday through Friday, 5am-8am training on the field and in the weight room. I’ve kept this training schedule without failure for the past 6 years, in hopes that an opportunity will present itself. I say this to give you some perspective on where I’m at physically.
I have also attached a list of my references within the league that will vouch for my character, work ethic and ability.
Thanks so much for your time.
- Jim Harbaugh — Michigan Head Coach
– San Francisco 49ers Head Coach 2011-2014
- Chip Kelly — UCLA Head Coach
– San Francisco 49ers Head Coach 2016
- John Harbaugh — Baltimore Ravens Head Coach
- Mark Davis — Las Vegas Raiders Owner
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Would this make sense for Jets?
The Jets should be exploring all options at quarterback and while it can’t hurt to bring in Kaepernick for a tryout, this likely isn’t a marriage that is going to happen.
Kaepernick hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2016 — Todd Bowles was still the Jets coach and both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith were still in Florham Park — and the Jets are unlikely to carry four quarterbacks anyway. Wilson and Tim Boyle likely aren’t going anywhere, and after signing Trevor Siemian to the practice squad, it’s unlikely they’d add another. — Rosenblatt
Kaepernick played for the 49ers from 2011-2016, going 28-30 in 58 starts. He took over as starting quarterback after Alex Smith suffered a concussion against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10 of the 2012 season. Kaepernick was 7-3 for the remainder of the regular season and postseason, leading San Francisco to the 2012 NFC Championship and a Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers reached the NFC Championship the following year, Kaepernick’s first as a full-time starter.
The 34-year-old hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality. He became a free agent after the season but was never signed by a franchise, leading some to believe his actions on the sideline were the reason.
Kaepernick, along with former safety Eric Reid, filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017 under the collective bargaining agreement alleging collusion against signing him to a professional contract. The filing said the league and owners “have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”
Kaepernick and Reid settled with the league in February 2019.
Kaepernick has expressed interest in returning to the NFL and in May 2022 worked out for the Las Vegas Raiders but did not sign.
The Jets are looking for help at the quarterback spot since Rodgers’ injury. Wilson, the team’s first-round pick in 2021, helped lead a comeback win that night against the Bills but is 0-2 since. He has two touchdowns to four interceptions this season with a 26.7 QBR.
(Photo: Rick Osentoski/USA Today)