Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he regrets not signing Colin Kaepernick in 2017, and denied that a second meeting with the quarterback was scuttled in 2018 because of the team’s uncertainty about whether he planned to continue kneeling during the national anthem.
Speaking with reporters via video conference Thursday, Carroll also revealed that he received a phone call earlier in the day from another team asking about Kaepernick, saying that hadn’t happened until now. Carroll wouldn’t disclose whom the call was from, but it left him with the impression that at least one team is currently interested in the quarterback.
Kaepernick visited the Seahawks in the spring of 2017 after he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, making him a free agent. Carroll’s reasoning for not signing him at the time was that the Seahawks felt he was a starter and they already had one in Russell Wilson. Carroll added Thursday that he was certain Kaepernick would be starting somewhere else that season.
Kaepernick, who began protesting social injustice and police brutality against black people by not standing during the national anthem in 2016, has yet to be signed since becoming a free agent. He and former 49ers teammate Eric Reid reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league in February 2019.
Carroll made multiple mentions during his hourlong video conference of how he wished Seattle had signed Kaepernick in 2017. One was in response to a question about the Seahawks possibly signing him now and giving him a platform to discuss issues that are currently being protested throughout the country.
“I regret that we weren’t the one way back when that just did it just to do it, even though I thought that it wasn’t the right fit necessarily for us at the time,” Carroll said. “The reason it wasn’t the right fit is because I held him in such a high regard I didn’t see him as a backup quarterback and I didn’t want to put him in that situation with Russ. It just didn’t feel like it would fit right. That’s the way I felt about it. So I just wish it would happen, and I wish we would have been a part of it when the time was available then. We’re kind of set up right now, so football-wise, it doesn’t seem to fit us like I said. But there’s a lot of time here. We’ll see what happens.”
Carroll said it’s clear now that Kaepernick was “right on point” with what he was protesting.
“He was right on it,” the coach said. “He was right on the topics about police brutality and inequality, and he was right on the subject matter at the time. That’s so obvious now where maybe all of the flak that flew about not honoring the flag and all the other things that were not even a part of the demonstration or what his intent was at all, that just skewed the whole discussion, I don’t think that’s around now. It’s different at this time frame.”
Carroll revealed that Kaepernick, then still a member of the division-rival 49ers, reached out to him during the 2016 season “for some advice about where he would go next.” He said that when Kaepernick visited the Seahawks the following spring, Carroll wanted to see if the quarterback could be a fit in Seattle football-wise and believed that if not, the meeting could still help open up doors for him elsewhere.
“We had great meetings,” Carroll said. “I don’t know if I had ever explained it in as much depth, but we spent half a day together and he spent time with our people throughout the building and almost a full day, and he was awesome. He just backed up even more of the play that we had seen and the character and his smarts and his togetherness and his competitiveness to the point where it was so obvious that he’s a starter in the NFL. That’s what I think I eventually wound up … saying to you guys, that he was a dominant figure as a football player and that’s how we saw him.
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SOURCE: ESPN, Brady Henderson