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Bill Belichick can solve a lot of problems with one phone call.
The New England Patriots need a backup quarterback now that they’ve traded soon-to-be free agent Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL needs someone to sign Colin Kaepernick to disprove suspicions the league has blackballed the quarterback who started the player protest movement. And Kaepernick needs a job.
It makes too much sense for it not to happen.
Yes, Kaepernick remains a polarizing figure despite not being on a sideline all season. The protests during the national anthem have continued in his absence, and President Donald Trump has used them to further divide an already fractious nation.
After Trump called protesting players “SOBs” and suggested NFL owners fire them, Patriots fans were among those who booed kneeling players the next game.
But Belichick carries more sway than just about anyone in New England. Five Super Bowl titles in 15 years will do that for you. If Belichick says Kaepernick is good enough for him, that’ll be good enough for Patriots fans.
Sure, some might grumble. Maybe even boo Kaepernick in his first game in New England. But the reaction will be muted and short-lived because Patriots fans believe, more than anything, that Belichick knows best.
They also know Belichick would never do anything just for show. When the Patriots signed Tim Tebow in 2013, it was because Belichick wanted to see if the quarterback had the NFL-caliber talent to match his popularity. Tebow didn’t, and Belichick cut him without regard to popular opinion or whether he might alienate fans.
Belichick is going to do what’s right for the Patriots, regardless of who’s involved. Right now, that would be signing Kaepernick.
With no other active quarterbacks on their roster after Tom Brady, the Patriots have to sign somebody. Brady remains the best quarterback in the game, and there’s been no indication whatsoever that his skills are fading. But he is 40, and that’s uncharted territory for a starting quarterback.
And as the Green Bay Packers have learned the hard way, not even future Hall of Famers are immune to fluke injuries.
Other coaches might be willing to gamble with NFL impostors – this means you, Bruce Arians – but Belichick will not. Should something happen to Brady, he needs someone who can step in without torpedoing the Patriots’ Super Bowl aspirations.
There’s no one else out there who fits that bill besides Kaepernick.
He’s got playoff experience, leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio ranks fifth behind Rodgers, Brady, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr – pretty good company.
Despite playing on a dismal San Francisco team last year, Kaepernick kept the 49ers competitive. Put him with Belichick and Josh McDaniels, two of the league’s best quarterback whisperers, and he may resemble the quarterback he was in 2012.
That’s a much better insurance plan than some guy who’s never gotten off the practice squad.
Belichick also would be doing the NFL a big favor by signing Kaepernick, who has filed a complaint accusing the league of collusion.
But don’t sign him simply because of that. Sign Kaepernick because he’s the best option the Patriots have, and Belichick knows it.
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