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Top teams that could use Colin Kaepernick

With the Kaepernick workout in the books, we break down which teams could use the services of the free agent QB the most.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick looks down field during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Levis Stadium. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Colin Kaepernick’s highly-anticipated Saturday workout has come and gone, we can start to speculate as to which team may take a chance on the free agent quarterback. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had a nice breakdown of the workout and highlighted that Kaepernick was “good enough to be on a roster, likely backup level.” Rap Sheet also mentioned Kap was in good shape, his arm strength was still there, but accuracy issues on deep balls was a concern. Kaepernick was “essentially average overall,” which isn’t too surprising with how long he’s been out of the League.

Here’s a list of the teams who attended the workout yesterday, and that’s what we’ll base this list off of. While I appreciate and respect Rap Sheet’s analysis, I feel like you need to take these reports with a grain of salt. We’ve seen a lot of poor QB play in the NFL in the years since Kaepernick left, so I have no doubts he’d be able to be a serviceable starter.

So with teams given a chance to check out what Kaepernick is capable of, we’re going to breakdown the top squads in need of the QBs services.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starting QB: Jameis Winston
Backup QB: Ryan Griffin

I think I’ve seen enough of Jameis Winston for one lifetime. Many believed that bringing in QB guru Bruce Arians would help Winston develop his game into something consistent. That certainly hasn’t been the case this season. The Bucs are 3-6 and Winston leads all QBs in interceptions. If Tampa Bay hasn’t realized by now that it needs to go in a different direction, then I give up.

Everything makes sense for the Bucs to go after Kaepernick. Arians has done well working with QBs and Kap has the experience of leading a team to the Super Bowl. That leadership should go a long way on a roster as talented as the Bucs. Kap would have receiving weapons in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus TEs O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. My only issue is that deep ball accuracy, but let’s face it, Winston hasn’t been very accurate all season and Godwin and Evans are producing just fine.

New York Jets

Starting QB: Sam Darnold
Backup QB: David Fales

David Fales. That’s who the Jets are using as a backup to Sam Darnold. Forget Adam Gase and the fact he shouldn’t have a job for a second. If Darnold had a competent backup behind him this season, perhaps New York isn’t 2-7 and looking at another top 5 pick to spend on a new QB. I still have some reservations that Darnold can become a serviceable signal-caller in the NFL, but so far things are trending more downward than upward.

I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring Kaepernick into New York to light a fire of sorts under Darnold. It’s a big market, which I think would work well for both sides (granted we’ve seen these types of signings turn into distractions in big media markets). Assuming Gase is gone after this season, the Jets could start fresh with a new coach and Kaepernick, who still has his legs apparently. The Jets run game would be pretty nice with Kaepernick and Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Worst case, Kaepernick sits behind Darnold, the USC product never really evolves into a solid starter and the Jets are back to square one.

Cincinnati Bengals

Starting QB: Ryan Finley
Backup QB: Andy Dalton

So the Bengals are on track to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That originally looked like a spot in which the team could select Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, but now things are unclear. Tua suffered a season-ending dislocated hip on Saturday and now it’s looking more and more like LSU QB Joe Burrow could be the top selection. So Cincinnati has a lot of tough decisions to make. Dalton will likely jet after being benched and Finley doesn’t look like anything special, granted it’s tough to look special on the worst team in the NFL.

I’m of the school of thought that great teams are made in the trenches on the offensive and defensive lines. Spending a top pick on the best available offensive lineman seems like the best play for a team that has allowed 31 sacks in nine games this season. If the Bengals brought in Kaepernick to be the starter, it’d be risky, but it’d also allow them to build up their line rather than blow the top pick on Burrow or another QB.

Miami Dolphins

Starting QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Backup QB: Josh Rosen

Once believed to be a shoe-in for the No. 1 pick, the Dolphins have stunned everyone by winning two in a row heading into Week 11. Now, Washington and Cincinnati have a better shot at the top selection in 2020, so Miami will likely opt against drafting a QB to fill another need. Rosen is also still young (22 years old) and I think he could develop into an OK starter/backup if given the proper team around him. The plan all along was for the Dolphins to be unfathomably bad and now they actually aren’t a complete joke, well, less of a joke compared to a few other teams.

I think Miami is the best landing spot for Kaepernick for a number of reasons. The city itself is culturally diverse, which I think will bode well for both sides. Dolphins coach Brian Flores is African American and has said he supports the player protests against social injustice. Plus, I really like what Flores is building in Miami. Realistically, the Dolphins could have won a few more games this season; their three losses prior to the winning streak were all somewhat close — 17-16 to Washington, 31-21 to Buffalo, 27-14 to Pittsburgh. Kaepernick would bring a duel-threat mentality and still has his arm strength. Give him a season to get his feet under him and then by 2021 I think the Dolphins could have something.

Washington

Starting QB: Dwayne Haskins
Backup QB: Case Keenum
Third-String QB: Colt McCoy

This team is a complete joke, which is funny considering I’ve talked more highly of the Bengals and Dolphins so far. Washington is 1-8 and appears in complete disarray. I talked a bit about how the No. 1 overall pick likely would have netted you Tua or Burrow, but now that’s unclear. If Washington is selecting second and Cincy goes Burrow, the team will likely opt against drafting a QB (a smart idea anyway, Haskins was drafted 15th overall). Washington has bigger needs almost everywhere, especially at the skill positions and in the secondary.

Bringing in Kaepernick would be interesting considering Washington’s history. It seems like the last place Kap would want to sign, but maybe the ownership wants to change? Maybe it’ll bring in a new, more affluent coach and give Kap a shot, perhaps in the role of mentoring Haskins a bit as the starter. It would take a bit for Kaepernick to get his game back, but Washington is in need of playmakers and that’s what Kap used to be. Hell, maybe Washington can pry Jim Harbaugh away from Michigan and reunite him with Kaepernick. Harbaugh has repeatedly backed Kap in the media throughout the years, so the two must still have a decent relationship. This would give the team a much better stop-gap for Haskins to develop than Keenum or McCoy.