CFL Does Not Need Kaepernick (or Other Cast-off Quarterbacks)

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 24: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

News today is that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have placed former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III as well former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on their negotiations list. With the recent signing of Vince Young by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a dangerous precedent is being established.

CFL Does Not Need Kaepernick (or Other Cast-off Quarterbacks)

Last season, names like Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow floated across the Canadian Football League headlines as candidates for a career revival in the North. The Montreal Alouettes laid claim to the rights for Tebow. They have since dropped those claims in light of Tebow putting down the football and picking up a bat in the MLB. Johnny football has spent time on the Ticats list where Kaep and RGIII now find themselves.

Two QBs, Two Recipes for Failure

While both had stellar college careers, neither could find purchase as a pro. For Tebow, his failure seemed to be because the game moved too quickly for him. He never looked fully comfortable with the speed of opposing defences. As a result, he relied too heavily on his legs in a league where a quarterback’s arm is more valuable. Those legs are a valuable asset in the CFL. A mobile quarterback has more room to maneuver and can make more plays down the field. That is, of course, if a quarterback is proficient enough to do so, which Tebow proved he was not.

Manziel, on the other hand, looked as if he could make it as at least a serviceable NFL quarterback, but he became his own worst enemy. Between the two, Manziel had the better shot at staying in pro football and at least eking out a decent, if journeyman-like, career. But the glitz and glam of the good life turned him into a has-been before he was ever a been. He claims to be back on his feet thanks in part to his recent engagement. He’s learned from his young mistakes and just wants to play football. It’s a nice enough thought, but the fact remains that he still didn’t prove he could do it in the first place.

The Vince Young Effect

Which brings us to today’s news regarding Robert Griffin and Colin Kaepernick. Right now, they are currently sitting on their couch waiting for the phone to ring. Both might be looking at the impending resurrection of the career of Vince Young in Saskatchewan. Both might be hoping they can get the same chance if the 30 remaining NFL teams who can call them, don’t.

Kaepernick currently has the most success so far on this list. In 2012 and 2013 he led his Niners in the last two of San Francisco’s three NFC Championship games in a row, the last of which ended with a victory over the Atlanta Falcons and a trip to Super Bowl XLVII. Kaepernick and the Niners were unable to see it to the end, and fell to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31 in the championship game.

Griffin, meanwhile, showed flashes of greatness in his years with the Washington Redskins. He earned offensive rookie of the year honors in 2012. That season, he set a record for highest rookie passer rating. For all the talent he possesses, injuries have been the bane of his existence. He has been unable to stay on the field for the better part of the last four seasons. In 2015 Kirk Cousins stepped in full time to take the starting job from RGIII, relegating him to the sidelines. Griffin then went to the Cleveland Browns and was ultimately out of a job altogether. He did very little with the Browns, making only five starts. He spent most of the season on the injured reserve.

No Room for Projects

Given the collective lack of sustainable talent displayed by the members of this list, why do they continue to garner attention in the CFL? Canadian football is a professional league that has rosters full of explosive players. It does not have to look south to find cast-offs. There is something to be said for trying to improve a team, but inheriting projects is not an effective way to accomplish that goal. With only nine teams, the competition for starting spots in the CFL is already tough. Those who currently hold those positions are not likely to want to compete with less successful players to keep them.

Quarterback have rarely made a successful transition from the south to the north. The most famous is Doug Flutie, and none of these quarterbacks measure up to a name like his. In fact, there have been far more cases of signal callers who got their start in Canada going on to a successful career in the States than the reverse. That list includes names like Warren Moon and Jeff Garcia, among others.

None of these quarterbacks need to ever make the trip to Hamilton. Football in Canada is better off without them. Whatever the perceived drawing power of their name might be will be cancelled out by their lack productivity. It’s time to just say no to quarterback cast-offs.


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