Colin Kaepernick has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL after going unsigned in NFL free agency.
Since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March, Kaepernick has remained on the free-agent market, with few teams showing interest in signing him.
Though some argue that Kaepernick’s skillset isn’t worthy of a spot on an NFL roster, others argue Kaepernick has been left unsigned because of his controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem last year, setting off a wave of similar protests throughout the league.
While many fans and experts may feel NFL owners have colluded against Kaepernick, proving it is another challenge, according to numerous NFL reporters.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported on Monday that the Collective Bargaining Agreement states that a player’s unemployment cannot simply be used to prove collusion. There must also be evidence that teams made an agreement, expressed or written, to not sign Kaepernick.
As New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta argued, it may be difficult for Kaepernick’s team to get their hands on emails or texts among owners agreeing not to sign Kaepernick.
As Mehta also noted, the grievance may signal the end of Kaepernick’s playing career. The grievance will likely only draw more attention to him, drawing, as Mehta noted, the dreaded “distraction” to any team that signed him. According to Seifert, if Kaepernick was able to prove collusion, it would not necessarily force a team to sign him; instead, an arbitrator would award compensatory damages.
Kaepernick may have other motivations, however. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Kaepernick is hoping to terminate the current CBA by proving collusion. According to Florio, the CBA, which is slated to expire after the 2020 season, may be terminated prematurely if there is evidence of collusion. Florio called such a potential situation “enormous and historical” as it would immediately provide leverage to the players to re-negotiate a CBA that many feel favours the owners.
Likewise, there could be another simple motivation, as Seifert noted: making the NFL look bad. If Kaepernick could prove owners colluded against signing him due to his protests, it would be a big black eye for the league, even with a portion of fans that disagree with the national anthem protests.
As Adam Schefter said on ESPN on Monday, “I think you wonder what long-term effect [the grievance] may have on his opportunities to find another job, but [he] couldn’t find a job anyway, so maybe he’s think he’s got nothing to lose here.”
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