“There’s some legitimate momentum growing for something that once seemed impossible,” said Jeffri Chadiha in a recent column for NFL.com regarding the chances of an NFL team signing free agent QB Colin Kaepernick.
Chadiha has joined a growing chorus of NFL observers, analysts, and insiders—including Alex Didion of NBC Sports—who are describing the Pittsburgh Steelers as a ‘logical’ if not entirely ideal destination for Kaepernick.
Chadiha likes the Steelers for two reasons. First, he regards Kaepernick as a better option than either of the team’s backup quarterbacks, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. No surprise there; Pittsburgh’s backup QB situation has been described as one of the biggest roster holes in the NFL.
Second, he appreciates how the Steelers have long been a forward-thinking franchise, noting that late owner Dan Rooney once chaired the NFL’s diversity committee, and also hired Mike Tomlin at a time when Tomlin was considered a longshot head-coaching candidate.
PFF: Kaepernick to Steelers ‘Makes a Lot of Sense’
Chadiha isn’t the only NFL observer who has warmed to the idea of Kaepernick going to Pittsburgh.
On a recent PFF NFL Podcast, co-host Steve Palazzolo said: “If your backup isn’t a ‘developmental option’ then Kaepernick should probably be in the mix,” adding: “A team like the Pittsburgh Steelers I think makes a lot of sense, not necessarily because of the scheme or the system or whatever but because Ben Roethlisberger is backed up by Mason Rudolph right now. You don’t want to completely give up on Mason Rudolph but if you want to win this year Colin Kaepernick probably is going to give you a better chance if Ben Roethlisberger is not healthy.”
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Would Kaepernick’s Production Outweigh the Controversy?
On the other hand, Palazzolo’s opinion is somewhat undercut by PFF’s detailed analysis of Kaerpernick’s past performance, which was analyzed to discern whether his production would outweigh the controversy?
Most notably, Kaepernick’s best season came all the way back in 2012, and even during the height of his career “the data reveals a high level of inaccurate and negatively graded throws [even] when conditions were ideal for achieving success in the passing game…. [And] the rust that comes with both time and inactivity may rob Kaepernick of his best opportunity to enjoy a successful return to football,” Solomon Wilcots concludes.
Moreover, PFF’s Sam Monson reminds us that when we last saw Kaepernick in the league, fans and analysts alike were questioning whether he had what it takes to be a starter in the league.
“It’s not that there was nothing there,” Monson said, “It’s just that people were losing patience with him as a starter, the way they have lost patience with Jameis Winston, the way they are losing patience with Derek Carr.”
Never mind that the Steelers seem intent on finding out more about what they have in Rudolph, despite the fact that he has been criticized by data analysts, who have labeled him a ‘Captain Checkdown’ and noted that he’s one of the lowest-rated quarterbacks on first-read throws.
For what it’s worth, the Steelers were also a no-show at Kaepernick’s planned workout late last year.