Don't Be Fooled: The New York Jets Should Consider Signing Colin Kaepernick
January 1, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) runs past Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets should consider signing Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback with big game experience with a ton left in the tank.

The Tony Romo pipe dream has been all but extinguished. When the New York Jets decided to clean house by shedding the contracts of veteran players, this signaled the regime was ready to go in a different direction that didn’t include some type of competitive rebuild. They wanted to go all in on getting younger, faster and more athletic on both sides of the ball.

So with a pretty barren quarterback market, why shouldn’t the Jets take a chance on Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned? You could make a legitimate argument he has a much higher ceiling that other free agents they’ve been linked to like like Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.

Kaep is a veteran QB with a ton of big-game experience, having played in a Super Bowl and two conference championship games. He burst onto the scene with athletic prowess that led many to believe he could become a superstar. But ever since he came within a few plays of winning a title, Kaepernick has endured a precipitous regression.

From 2013 to 2014, he threw for 6,566 yards, 40 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions to go along with more than 1,100 rushing yards. Now at age 29, Kaepernick is wondering where it all went wrong and how he could possibly go from being a Top-10 QB to the unemployment line.

Part of it stems from the struggles. Last season, he played in just 12 games and never really looked comfortable. He appears to have lost his confidence in the pocket and is now struggling to read defenses. Kaepernick only threw four interceptions, but completed just 59 percent of his passes. The poor accuracy and decision-making are huge question marks that could sabotage his chances of landing another starting gig.

But it’s pretty evident this isn’t the only reason Kaep is still a free agent. Many teams are reluctant to give him an opportunity fresh off of what transpired last season as it pertains to his silent protesting of the national anthem. He kneeled during the pregame ceremonies last year in an effort to take a political stance. This produced ire across the nation from those who saw this as a heinous sign of disrespect.

The problem lies within the existence of hypocrisy that aids the percolation of blind patriotism. The same people chastising Kaepernick for the choices he made are the ones clearly ignoring a fundamental principle of this country: freedom of speech and expression. Kaepernick had every right to do what he did.

He has since said he intends to stand for the national anthem next season. This isn’t necessarily a surrender to the notion that his methodology was flawed. It’s more about ensuring the message isn’t contaminated and the positive change doesn’t go ignored.

Unfortunately for Kaepernick, the damage has already been done. This is tantamount to a “red flag.” Most teams won’t feel he’s worth the risk and the negative publicity, especially with him being viewed as a reclamation project.

On the surface, this is screaming for the Jets to stay away. The last thing this franchise needs right now is another distraction. Remember how the Tim Tebow signing worked out? It didn’t. But that was never designed to be successful. They made a mockery of him and themselves. This could be different if done correctly.

Ideally, you’d want to bring someone in who could have a profound impact on the growth and development of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Is there any reason to believe Kaep could provide that? Probably not.

But this could essentially be a low-risk, high reward move. He’d undoubtedly come in on a prove-it deal, which would cost the Jets close to nothing. It could be some semblance of an incentive based contract that includes a club option for next season. If he performs well, you bring him back. If not, then you say good riddance at the end of what will probably amount to another losing season.

Kaepernick still has a tremendous upside. The athleticism hasn’t escaped him. With new offensive coordinator John Morton on board, they could find a way to use his legs to improve an offense that ranked 30th in scoring last season.

As previously alluded to, the task for Morton and company will be to enhance his accuracy and get him back to playing smart football. It’s easy to fall in love with running the ball, but it’s incumbent upon Kaepernick to make significant strides as a passer if he wants to ascend back to relevancy.

It would be asinine to suggest that Colin Kaepernick is somehow going to Make Gang Green Great Again. He’s so far removed from the QB he used to be. But given how bare the market is right now, the Jets could absolutely afford to take a chance on him.

The fact that he remains unsigned in a league devoid of a surplus of capable QBs proves that he’s being punished for his political views. That’s shameful. But the Jets can be the team that puts an end to this. Give him a chance, what do you say Mike Maccagnan?

Content provider, producer and on air talent at ESPN Radio in Syracuse (@ESPNSyracuse). Disc Jockey for @TKClassicRock. Play by play announcer. Live and breathe sports - for better or for worse. Aspirations are that of becoming the greatest.