This week the attorney for Colin Kaepernick hinted the Raiders might be interested in the controversial quarterback. The NFL may be finding out his kneeling in protest may not so bad for business these days after he sent Nike sales through the roof with the ad campaign he did with them.
The potential interest for the Raiders would be as a backup to Derek Carr. Jon Gruden didn’t like EJ Manuel or Connor Cook to be the backup quarterback for the Oakland Raiders this year. So he cut both of them after the preseason and traded a 5th-round pick for AJ McCarron, who didn’t look any better in Buffalo than the two he just cut.
Yeah, the Raiders could use a capable backup who wouldn’t ruin their season if Derek Carr gets hurt. But there is another player banished for the Raiders need even more — former Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid.
The 26-year-old is Kaepernick’s former teammate with the San Francisco 49ers, who also protested and now isn’t garnering interest from NFL teams.
The Raiders have defended the pass reasonably well so far this year but it isn’t because of the play at safety.
Last year’s starting safeties have not played well this season. Former 1st-round pick Karl Joseph has barely seen the field while Reggie Nelson has proven he no longer has it.
On both pass interference penalties the Raiders had against them on deep balls vs the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, Nelson was behind the play instead of in front of it like a safety should be. Later on, Rams receiver Robert Woods got behind Gilchrist and Nelson but Jared Goff missed him. And let’s not forget that Nelson was late getting over on all the deep balls the Raiders have given up the last couple of years.
Veteran newcomer Marcus Gilchrist hasn’t proven he’s any better than Joseph.
A potential bright spot could be Eric Harris, who has been pretty good in limited action. The former special teams player isn’t exactly proven, but Gruden has loved him since OTAs and could see more snaps as the season goes along.
“He did very well,” Gruden said this week of Harris’s performance against the Broncos. “I think we talked about him emerging in the offseason program. He steadily has really earned the right to play. He got hurt in training camp, hurt that finger and missed a couple weeks. Not only did he flash, he has consistently flashed, and really has earned the right to play more and more.”
A Pro Bowl safety like Reid working with Harris looks a lot safer than any other option the Raiders have currently. He can play single-high, deep half, cover tight ends or receivers one on one, blitz and play in the box.
Gruden needs to go ahead on jump on that!
This isn’t to say signing Kaepernick is a bad idea as he would be easily one of the best backup QB’s in the NFL. He’s been in a lot of big games including a Super Bowl so nothing will be too big if he has to play. But for immediate impact, it would be more important to get a Pro Bowl safety in the prime of his career for cheap while you can.