2017 NFL Props: Will Colin Kaepernick or Tony Romo Find a Job?

by Taylor Smith
on August 3, 2017

NFL training camps are in full swing, and we’ve already seen a few key players get hurt. The Texans lost Will Fuller thanks to a broken collarbone, while Titans first-round pick Corey Davis left practice Thursday with an apparent injury. Really, it’s only a matter of time until a team loses its starting quarterback and is forced to scramble for a replacement.

Most teams have at least three QBs on the training camp roster, but it’s hard to believe most teams have a whole lot of confidence in the backups. If the Patriots were to lose Tom Brady, the Pats would likely be just fine with Jimmy Garappolo stepping in. However, if the Cowboys lost Dak Prescott, would they really trust Kellen Moore to carry them through the season as the starting signal-caller? Doubtful.

Of course, there are still several big-name quarterbacks that don’t have jobs as of yet. A couple of them have retired, though we’ve seen plenty of players come out of retirement in the past (looking at you, Brett Favre). At least one team will lose its starting QB this season and may be forced to scour the free agent pool for a potential replacement. They could always make a trade, as the Vikings did last season after Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, but snagging one out of free agency means no forfeiture of assets.

So, which of the following free agent passers will find a job first?

  • Colin Kaepernick +125
  • Robert Griffin III +125
  • Jay Cutler +1000
  • Tony Romo +3300
  • Johnny Manziel +3300
  • None of the Above Sign During the 2017 Season +700

Let’s make a case for each.

Colin Kaepernick +125

The Colin Kaepernick saga is never-ending. He drew the ire of many last season for his decision to kneel during the national anthem prior to games, which reportedly caused many to stop watching the NFL altogether. That is absurd, of course, but Kaepernick is still paying the price for his activism. Despite having played pretty well during his time as the starter for the San Francisco 49ers last season, Kaepernick still finds himself without a job.

Last week, the Baltimore Ravens learned that a back issue will keep Joe Flacco off the field for a couple of weeks. While he’s fully expected to return prior to the beginning of the regular season, the Ravens could still use a replacement during training camp and the preseason. The only other QBs on the roster are Ryan Mallett, Dustin Vaughan, and Josh Woodrum. Vaughan and Woodrum aren’t going to see the light of day as the team’s starter. Mallett has gotten his chances in the past and failed.

While Kaepernick’s performance has dipped over the last couple of seasons, he’s still easily one of the best 32 players at the position available in the league. Obviously, it’s ludicrous to suggest that there are over 90 players more deserving than Kaepernick of being on a training camp roster. It’s clear at this point that he’s straight-up being blackballed because owners are too scared to upset their fans by signing him.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome have reportedly shown interest in signing the embattled QB, but they may have met some resistance from the team’s owner, Steve Bisciotti. If ownership doesn’t give the green light, it’s hard to see how Kaepernick gets to Baltimore.

Seattle is another team that has shown interest, though they passed on the chance to sign him already. The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers have both been inviting QBs in for workouts, though there has not been much smoke regarding a potential signing of Kaepernick for either team.

The Miami Dolphins lost starter Ryan Tannehill Thursday, though there’s no telling how long he’ll be out. Matt Moore will step in as the team’s starter if Tannehill misses time, though the only other quarterbacks on the roster are Brandon Doughty and David Fales. Could Kaepernick find his way to South Beach if Tannehill misses extended time? It’s possible. The team’s owner, Stephen Ross, hinted that he hopes a team would sign Kaepernick if they believe he can help them win.

We believe Kaepernick is one of the most likely of the players on this list to be signed at some point this season. One would imagine a desperate team will come along and put the off-field stuff on the back burner once they realize he can help them win football games. Kaep is a fine value bet at +125.

Robert Griffin III +125

A signing of RGIII wouldn’t make as many headlines as Kaepernick finding a new team would, but he’s still a big name. Unfortunately, injuries have completely derailed what was once an incredibly promising career. Griffin dazzled the league by winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award back in 2012 with the Washington Redskins, but injuries were an unfortunate theme for him.

Sadly, it’s been a steady downhill turn since Griffin tore his ACL during a playoff game during that decorated rookie campaign. He has appeared in a grand total of 27 games from 2013 through the 2016 season, five of which came last year with the Cleveland Browns. Griffin entered the season as Cleveland’s starter, only to battle injury problems yet again.

He’s still only 27, but no team that signs Griffin can seriously expect him to challenge for a starting job. Even when he’s been healthy, he hasn’t performed very well. In those five games with the Browns last year, RGIII completed 59.2% of his throws for 886 yards with two touchdowns and three picks.

Griffin previously did tons of damage with his legs, but he’s had so many injuries that he’s no longer as explosive as he was in his college days at Baylor. He was still decently effective in the running game last season, but he isn’t capable of tucking and running as often as he used to be.

Unfortunately, RGIII appears to be damaged goods at this stage of his career. There’s no doubting his talent level, but he is just too fragile to legitimately trust as a starter anymore. Some team may take a flier on him if they face injury concerns of their own at the position, but Kaepernick appears to be a far better player at this point. We like Kaepernick at +125 to be signed more than Griffin at the same price point.

Jay Cutler +1000

Jay Cutler was released after a lengthy and inconsistent tenure with the Chicago Bears back in March. The 34-year-old found the free agent market for him to be tepid at best, so he announced his retirement from football and was subsequently hired to be a television analyst for FOX.

While he’s officially retired, could the aforementioned Tannehill injury mean Cutler’s immediate return to the field? It’s not impossible. Of course, the Dolphins’ head coach, Adam Gase, was Cutler’s offensive coordinator up in Chicago in 2015. The two obviously know each other quite well, and Cutler would surely still be familiar with the offensive system Gase has implemented in Miami.

The Bears went just 6-9 by games started by Cutler when Gase was on the staff, but Cutler actually had a pretty solid statistical campaign. He threw 21 touchdowns compared to just 11 interceptions and ranked 10th in the league in Total QBR. Gase was also at Cutler’s retirement party earlier this summer, so it’s clear the two still have a pretty solid relationship.

If Tannehill’s injury is season-ending, as the Dolphins fear, Cutler makes a lot of sense as an emergency replacement. Matt Moore has been a capable backup over the course of his career, but the Dolphins actually have aspirations of winning games this season. Cutler, while far from perfect, has still been a serviceable pro at the NFL level very recently. At the very least, he potentially makes the Dolphins a more potent offense than they would be with Moore at the helm.

There isn’t much downside if Cutler still wants to play. A broadcasting job of some sort will likely still be available to him even if he nixes his deal with FOX to return to the field. If Cutler still has the desire to play, the Dolphins would make all the sense in the world. In light of Thursday’s news, Cutler is a phenomenal value bet at +1000 to be signed. If Tannehill’s season is over, you can bet Gase will be on the phone with Cutler before long.

Tony Romo +3300

Romo is essentially in the same boat as Cutler. He lost his job to Dak Prescott last season after being injured during the preseason and played just a single series all year in the season finale in Philadelphia. Rather than trying to find a new job outside of Dallas, Romo made the surprising decision to retire and head for the broadcast booth.

CBS apparently believes Romo has what it takes to be a legitimate broadcaster because they wasted no time in handing him the No. 1 analyst job alongside Jim Nantz. Phil Simms was (mercifully) shown the door.

We really don’t think Romo is coming back. He’s had numerous back surgeries over the years, and there’s no sense in risking his long-term health to come out of retirement and play for anybody other the Cowboys. Realistically, the only scenario we could even imagine would be if Prescott were to get hurt. If Jerry Jones got on the phone and asked Romo if he could still come back and play, it might be tough for Romo to turn it down.

Still, it’s unlikely. Romo seemed resigned to his fate as a television broadcaster, and one would imagine the time away from training camp has probably helped make his decision easier. It’s tempting at +3300, but we think Romo is done for good.

Johnny Manziel +3300

Johnny Manziel hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015. He spent last season as an unwanted free agent as he continued to work through substance abuse issues. Manziel claimed back in January that he’s sober and ready to resume his football career, but we have heard nothing about potential interest from any of the NFL’s 32 clubs.

And that makes perfect sense. Manziel was amazing during his collegiate career at Texas A&M, but there were plenty of questions even then regarding how he would fare at the pro level. Manziel has always been small for the position, and he never really displayed the kind of throwing skills a QB would need to overcome such physical limitations. Essentially, Manziel is a homeless man’s Russell Wilson.

Why would an NFL team take a flier on Manziel given all the baggage? He’s a disaster waiting to happen, and any Manziel signing would absolutely bring worse PR than a Kaepernick signing. Kaepernick hasn’t actually done anything wrong, while Manziel has been mixed up with the law on numerous occasions.

Factor in that Manziel isn’t even a good quarterback, and you have the makings of a complete washout. He could always resume his career in the CFL or some lesser league, but it’s hard to imagine ever seeing him in an NFL uniform again. We’re passing on Johnny Football at +3300.

None of the Above Get Signed in 2017 +700

This is a very realistic possibility, though we do believe one of Kaepernick or Cutler will be on a roster at some point. Cutler will be a Dolphin if Tannehill’s season is over. Kaepernick, meanwhile, will likely latch on as a backup somewhere before the season is said-and-done. At some point, teams will pull their heads out of the mud and realize that winning games is more important than offending dopey fanbases.

This is a fine value bet at +700, but it’s not our favorite on the board.
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