Seven years after he last took an NFL snap, Colin Kaepernick believes he can still help a team in need of a quarterback — even if it means playing on the practice squad.
The former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller who exited the league in controversial fashion wrote a letter to the New York Jets last week requesting a chance to play quarterback for them, but with a twist.
Rather than lobby for the Jets’ starting quarterback job with the team struggling in the wake of the season-ending injury to star Aaron Rodgers, Kaepernick asked for an opportunity to be the team’s practice squad quarterback.
Practice squad players are not part of a team’s primary 53-man roster. They mostly serve as the scout team in practice, mimicking the schemes run by upcoming opponents to prepare the players on the main roster for the game. A player must be listed on a team’s 53-man roster in order to play in an NFL game.
Kaepernick, 35, wrote to Jets general manager Joe Douglas in the letter, which was shared on Instagram by his friend, rapper J. Cole, on Sept. 26. Representatives for Kaepernick confirmed to TODAY that he wrote the letter shared by Cole.
“I would be honored and extremely grateful for the opportunity to come in and lead the practice squad,” Kaepernick wrote. I would do this with the sole mission of getting your defense ready each week.”
Kaepernick wrote that he would approach the job “with the dedication and passion as if it were the QB1 position.”
Rodgers lasted only four plays in the season opener before tearing his Achilles tendon following a tackle, abruptly ending his first season with the Jets after 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
Kaepernick’s letter comes as Rodgers’ replacement, Zach Wilson, has struggled mightily in two straight losses for the Jets. The third-year quarterback and former No. 2 overall draft pick ranks last in the league with a 57.0 passer rating this season.
“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,” Kaepernick said about Wilson in his letter.
Kaepernick, who took his last NFL snap in 2016, added that for the past six years he has trained three hours a day from Monday through Friday to stay in shape for any potential playing opportunities.
He has tried to break back into the league in recent years, including a reported workout with the Las Vegas Raiders last year, but no team has signed him.
“Worst case scenario, you see what I have to offer and you’re not that impressed,” he wrote. “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.”
Kaepernick played for the 49ers from 2011-16, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2012 season and a trip to the NFC championship game the following season.
In 2016, he began kneeling for the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism, becoming a national lightning rod for a politically divided country. He was a free agent after the season and was never signed by another NFL team, ending his career.
In 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL alleging that teams colluded in not signing him to a contract, likely due to his decision to kneel during the national anthem. Kaepernick settled the collusion case in 2019.
The Jets did not issue a public response to Kaepernick’s letter. They currently have three quarterbacks on their roster. The team signed free agent Trevor Siemian to the practice squad on Sept. 26, and also have backup Tim Boyle behind Wilson. Siemian had a previous stint with the Jets in 2019.