NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick walks off the field
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL season will kick off on Thursday and for the fourth consecutive year, Colin Kaepernick will not be on a roster or practice squad. Coming off an offseason that saw seemingly pointed to him returning, it’s now increasingly clear that Kaepernick won’t be coming back to the NFL.

Kaepernick, who last played during the 2016 season, helped spark a wave of player protests to raise awareness for police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. After seemingly being kept out of the league for three years, signs pointed toward the 32-year-old making a comeback in 2020.

Will an NFL team sign Colin Kaepernick?

Following the murder of George Floyd by a then-Minneapolis police officer, the NFL community stepped forward in a sweeping movement. From teams donating $5 million towards social justice causes to the NFL pledging $250 million to combat ‘systemic racism’ in the United States, organizations were joining the players in protest.

As more players and teams got involved in demonstrations, there was also a shift in tone within NFL circles about Kaepernick. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said at least one club expressed interest and league executives argued he deserved a shot to compete.

Even more surprisingly, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the league got it wrong regarding player protests and apologized to Kaepernick. Teams reportedly started doing extensive homework on the former San Francisco 49ers star and the interest seemed real.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the interest teams expressed in Kaepernick was fake. Organizations reportedly felt some sense of guilt following Floyd’s death and the Kaepernick rumors were never genuine, with zero teams shows interest in months.

It might not be the first time the NFL has made a gesture that was portrayed as a positive for Kaepernick, but was purely meant for a positive narrative for the media to run with. The league created a workout for Kaepernick during the 2019 season, but he backed out and held his own workout after the NFL denied media access to the original showcase.

NBA stars like LeBron James have demanded the NFL apologize to Kaepernick personally and prominent NFL players have campaigned for him to be signed. While he might be in the best shape of his life and would seemingly benefit from the new rule this season allowing veterans to sign with a practice squad, the bottom line is the same.

Kaepernick isn’t returning to the NFL. Now three years removed from his last game, the league won’t be welcoming him back.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick