Kaepernick 'has place' in NFL, just not with Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent after his contract with the 49ers expired earlier this month.

Phoenix – Colin Kaepernick is having trouble finding a job but Lions general manager Bob Quinn believes talent isn’t the issue for the free-agent quarterback.

The outspoken Kaepernick, who sparked widespread debate when he used the national anthem as a vehicle to protest race relations in the United States, hasn’t been able to find a new team since his contract with the San Francisco 49ers expired earlier this month.

Asked whether Kaepernick should be in the league, Quinn said yes, but not with the Lions.

“I still think he has a place in this league,” Quinn said. “I don’t think, you know, watching Kap over the years, is he a perfect system fit for us? Probably not. I think he has a great deal of talent. I think he has enough talent to be playing in this league in the right system.”

Quinn didn’t profess to have any insight into the thinking of any other teams, but said the social views of any player, including Kaepernick, would not be a factor when making roster decisions.

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“Like I’ve told you about (DeAndre) Levy, that stuff doesn’t factor into my equation when evaluating a player and how he can fit into our team or our scheme,” Quinn said.

The Lions released Levy earlier this month, but Quinn insisted it was strictly performance-related and had nothing to do with the player’s outspoken takes on topics, ranging from women’s rights to the NFL’s handling of concussions.

“This is what players do nowadays,” Quinn said. “I mean, everyone has their personality, everyone’s got their social things that they want to talk about and I have complete respect for that. It doesn’t matter who the player is, that’s not going to factor into our decision-making process.”

Kaepernick, a second-round draft pick in 2011, led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 while playing under current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. After losing his starting job in 2015, Kaepernick earned it back last season, completing 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in 12 games. The mobile passer ran for another 468 yards and two scores.

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In a recent radio interview, Harbaugh touted Kaepernick’s ability.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell (teams): I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

Twitter: @justin_rogers