By JOSH DUBOW
Colin Kaepernick has his first chance to practice for an NFL team since his last game in the league in 2016, when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality .
Two people familiar with the situation said Kaepernick will practice for the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced training plans. ESPN reported for the first time that the Raiders are bringing in Kaepernick.
Kaepernick hasn’t played since the end of the 2016 season when he was cut by San Francisco when the new regime under coach Kyle Shanahan wanted to take a different direction at quarterback.
Kaepernick never had another opportunity, even to practice for NFL teams, as he alleged he was blackballed for his protests during the previous season’s anthem. He met Seattle and had informal talks with Baltimore but never paid more attention.
He filed a grievance with the NFL in 2017 over his lack of opportunities and settled it in 2019 – but still never got another look.
The Raiders have been at the forefront of diversity in their history, hiring Tom Flores as their second Hispanic coach, Art Shell as their first black coach in modern history, and Amy Trask as their first female CEO.
Owner Mark Davis has publicly stated that he would support his trainers if they wanted to take a look at Kaepernick, and freshman coach Josh McDaniels does exactly that.
Raiders don’t desperately need a quarterback after signing starter Derek Carr at an extension last month. Las Vegas also signed Nick Mullens as a backup this offseason, traded for Jarrett Stidham and signed Chase Garbers as an undrafted free agent.
But none of those backups have the pedigree of Kaepernick, who became one of the league’s young stars when he took over at San Francisco in 2012, and helped the The Niners reach the Super Bowl this season.
Kaepernick’s game began to regress in 2014 and he was injured midway through the following season and lost his starting job. Things changed the next preseason when Kaepernick began protesting during the national anthem, angering critics including then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Kaepernick returned to his starting job in 2016 and threw 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions in 12 games, while posting a 90.7 passer rating.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.
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