Tim Benz: No, the Steelers don’t need Colin Kaepernick
Before you ask, the answer is “no.” The Pittsburgh Steelers shouldn’t sign Colin Kaepernick now that Ben Roethlisberger is out for the year.
Oh. We already asked?
Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season. Inevitably, Colin Kaepernick's name will come up. Should the #Steelers consider signing him as a backup?
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) September 16, 2019
Hmm. This poll must be broken. It only let me vote “no” once.
I tried to do so about 50 times.
Any time a quarterback job — backup or starting — opens up, Kaepernick’s name gets introduced into the discussion.
Should “Team X” bring Kaepernick in for a workout?
If you say, “yes,” you are an anti-patriotic “lib.”
If you say, “no,” you are a racist “redneck.”
There is no “Option C.” Nope. Not allowed.
This is what Twitter has taught me, anyway.
So, call me a racist redneck if you like. But I think the Steelers should disregard any thought of working out Kaepernick.
From a football standpoint, it makes zero sense.
The Steelers need a quarterback for one of three reasons.
The first is to be a third-string guy. To be an emergency arm and run the scout team as Devlin Hodges is elevated to second string. The Steelers would be dumb to sign Kaepernick and create a wave of negative backlash from a portion of their fan base just for that job.
The second angle to signing Kaepernick would be to backup Mason Rudolph instead of Hodges.
That would be even dumber since Kaepernick is rusty. He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016. He played in a different style of offense in San Francisco than what the Steelers run, and he isn’t up to speed on the Steelers playbook.
Plus, before the anthem controversy , I don’t think he was all that good anyway. Granted, he got little help on bad San Francisco teams. Yet a 3-16 record as a starter over his last two seasons doesn’t speak to any ability to elevate a struggling offense, such as the one in Pittsburgh so far in 2019.
Then there is the third notion. The one that says Kaepernick should be acquired to battle Rudolph for the starting job.
That would be sheer insanity. Quarterback controversies are combustible enough on their own without bringing in the tinge of race-baiting on both sides of the fence that would accompany this one.
Regardless, why bring in a washed-up has-been to rattle the nerves of a young quarterback about to dip his toes into the water for the first time as a starter?
Not only would such a move be unwise from a mental point of view for Rudolph, there is also the practical point of view for his offensive teammates.
“At this point, we’ve got to go with who knows the offense the best,” tight end Xavier Grimble said Monday when asked about Kaepernick. “We don’t want to bank on any new guy. We’ve got to roll with who we’ve got in-house.”
Grimble was on San Francisco’s practice squad back in 2014 as a teammate of Kaepernick’s. He had nothing but good things to say about Kaepernick, describing him as, “Talented. Athletic. Skilled. Hard-working. Wanted to win. Wanted to be good.”
But Grimble came back to another word.
“Practical,” Grimble said. “That’s logical in my mind.
“It’d be hard for a guy to come in and try to learn everything and jell with the offense and get to know the guys. That’s tough.”
It would also be highly impractical for Art Rooney II to sign the same person who touched off the whole anthem debate after his own team thrust itself into that maelstrom — more than all others — during the 2017 season.
Remember the debacle in Chicago during Week 3 of that season?
Not only that, but aren’t the Steelers doing whatever it takes to minimize distractions in 2019? Bringing Kaepernick to this franchise would be a massive distraction.
The Steelers blew off concerns about bad public relations when they signed Mike Vick during the 2015 campaign. And that guy? He went to federal prison for 21 months because of his involvement with a dogfighting ring.
Meanwhile, all Kaepernick did was speak out about a social concern.
I completely disagree with how he did it. But that’s all he did.
Somehow, I bet the fallout from this matter will be more substantial if Kaepernick puts on the Black and Gold, though. After all, it wasn’t Pittsburgh who brought Vick back to the league. The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets did before them.
So this would be a bigger deal than when Vick came to town. And that signing ended up being worse on the field, than off it.
They’d be similar experiments in one regard, though.
Neither would be worth the hassle.