Raiders: Examining Mark Davis’ comments on Colin Kaepernick

Raiders (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Las Vegas Raiders’ owner Mark Davis recently stated that the team would be open to adding Colin Kaepernick.

Recently, I wrote an article speculating that quarterback turned social activist Colin Kaepernick may be a good fit to reunite with the San Francisco 49ers. However, recent comments by Las Vegas Raiders’ owner Mark Davis have opened the door for him to possibly join the Raiders.

Davis was quoted saying “since 2017, I’ve told the coaches and general managers that if they want to hire Colin Kaepernick, they have my blessing.”

While this is hardly a ringing endorsement, it is interesting to see just how much the national perception surrounding the former Nevada star has changed in recent weeks.

For the first time in years, it seems as though teams are legitimately open to signing the quarterback to an NFL roster.

This begs the question — does Kaepernick to the Raiders actually make sense? Let’s explore.

The Incumbent

The Raiders enter the 2020 NFL season with a level of stability at the quarterback position. However, barring a massive, late-career, jump by one of the current signal callers, they project as a middle-of-the-pack offensive team.

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Incumbent starter Derek Carr has provided plenty of evidence about who he is as a passer.

He is capable of being a solid, steadying presence on the team, who will be safe with the football and record a high completion percentage on short throws (his 70.4 percent mark was second only to Drew Brees in 2019).

However, he has yet to led the Raiders to any sort of postseason success during his tenure with the organization.

On the other hand, the Raiders already have a dual-threat option in presumed backup Marcus Mariota. The former second overall pick signed with the Raiders during the offseason after being bench by the Tennessee Titans last season.

The sixth-year QB has struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout his career. He does, however, have a similar skill set to Kaepernick.

Both players are excellent athletes with an ability to burn a defense by tucking the ball and running. Mariota has recorded 1,399 rushing yards in his five NFL seasons. Kaepernick accumulated 2,300 in his six pro years.

The possible fit for the Raiders

This is the one area where a union between Kaepernick and the Raiders could be interesting. Head coach Jon Gruden implemented a West Coast offense in Oakland that he will assuredly take with him to Las Vegas.

An athletic player like Kaepernick would be an interesting fit in this type of system, particularly in its more modernized form. The West Coast involves creating space by forcing the defense to focus its attention on short and intermediate passes.

This creates lanes that the passing and running game can take advantage of. It requires a quarterback to make quick, almost robotic decisions and accurate short throws. It also opens up space for rushing quarterbacks to take advantage of their speed.

On paper the fit makes sense. However, there are a couple of notable complications. First off, Kaepernick has been removed from NFL competition for several years. While he has remained in great athletic shape, he has assuredly accumulated some rust.

This makes the precision required for a West Coast system difficult. Secondly, the Raiders already have Maritoa under contract through 2021. There is no need for a redundant skill set.

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At the end of the day, there is simply no reason for the Raiders to consider Kaepernick under the current circumstances. Not only do the Raiders have two starting-caliber quarterbacks under contract, but they don’t need a rushing specialist.

If the same decision were being made several years ago, the answer may be different. The one thing the Raiders do seem to lack is a player that gives the team hope for the future.

While Carr and Mariota are both solid, it is difficult to imagine either of them leading Las Vegas to a stint of consistent contention over the next several years.

If Kaepernick was a young prospect who the team could build toward the future with it would make much more sense to add him. However, the 32-year-old is far past that point.

This puts Las Vegas in a similar place as many NFL franchises: adding Kaepernick only makes sense in the event of an injury. If Carr were to miss a large portion of the 2020 season, there would be reasonable doubt about Mariota’s ability to lead the team singlehandedly.

At this point, Kaepernick would make much more sense. Inversely, a Mariota absence would leave the team in need of depth and athleticism.

The only advantage to adding Kaepernick at this stage would be as a move to overstock their QB room amidst concerns the COVID-19 pandemic could affect the availability of their current options.

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However, this likely isn’t good motivation for either the Raiders or the QB himself.

What are your thoughts about seeing Colin Kaepernick in silver and black?