There's been renewed conversation about Colin Kaepernick being signed by an NFL team following the country and the NFL's racial-injustice awakening. That's a good thing. Kaepernick was seemingly blackballed by NFL teams after he tried to raise awareness about police brutality against minorities and racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem. He deserves a second chance if he wants one. Some team should give it to him.
While that is true, it's also true that Cam Newton is still a free agent and is, by a wide margin, the better quarterback of the two. That's not a knock on Kaepernick, it's just reality. Newton has played in the NFL more recently and at a higher level than Kaepernick ever did. If an NFL team is looking for a great second option, or if their primary option gets hurt or flames out, Newton should be the first person it calls, not Kaepernick.
Two years ago, Newton completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns in 14 games, and that was considered a down year. All of those numbers are better than Kaepernick's best season. Throw in the fact that Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL in four years and his final season's numbers were subpar (59.2 completion percentage, 2,241 passing yards and 16 TDs in 11 starts) and there's not even an argument about who should be the first quarterback signed between the two.
And yet right now the buzz is about Kaep. Nate Burleson recently said he's better than every backup quarterback in the NFL. I don't agree with that assessment, as Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Jacoby Brissett currently penciled in for backup roles, but that's for another article. This is about Cam Newton and the fact is, he would be the best backup quarterback in the NFL and it's not even close. None of those players have led a team to a Super Bowl or won an MVP. None of them, including Kaepernick, are three-time Pro Bowlers with a history of winning big games. Newton is.
Previously, I advocated for Newton to take a backup role. He could sit around and wait for a starter to get hurt and hope that team was interested in him, but the problem there is learning a new offense takes a long time. Even in that scenario, Newton would likely have to be the backup to the team's current backup for a week or two until he was up to speed with the offense and in sync with his new offensive teammates. So why not just choose a team now and then go from there? His injury history is playing a factor in him not signing, but all indications are he's healthy.
Regardless, Newton deserves a job in the NFL and, from a purely football standpoint, he deserves one before Kaepernick. Yes, I understand there are social considerations that play a role in this. Signing Kaepernick now would actually be a PR boon for a team. He is, after all, the originator of using his platform in the NFL to help fight against social injustice by kneeling during the anthem. The NFL is now backing that and signing Kaepernick would, at minimum, be a positive storyline that team could point to as another example of being proactive in the fight for equality. When the game kicks off, however, Newton is the guy you want on your sideline. Whether as a backup or starter, he's the best free agent available.