On Saturday, Colin Kaepernick conducted his much-anticipated workout for NFL teams.
On Sunday, a pair of NFL quarterbacks made a strong case for their respective teams to take a look at the tape.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen each had disastrous, turnover-filled days in losses that should have management thinking about a quarterback change sooner than later.
In the case of Winston, surely the Bucs front office is already looking ahead to the first step in moving on from what they hoped would be their franchise quarterback.
In the case of the Panthers, their playoff hopes are still alive this season, but likely won’t be for long with Allen behind center.
Winston implodes against Saints
Winston is in the midst of the worst of his five largely mediocre NFL seasons since joining the Bucs as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft. Sunday’s performance in a 34-17 home loss to the New Orleans Saints was arguably his worst of the season.
He completed 30-of-51 pass attempts for 313 yards with four interceptions and a pair of touchdowns. Despite the terrible day, the Bucs still had a long-shot chance in the second half, trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter.
But Winston promptly put that chance to bed with 5:07 remaining when Saints safety Marcus Williams turned Winston’s fourth interception of the day into a 55-yard touchdown.
It was the fourth pick-6 of the season thrown by Winston and the eighth of his career. It also added to his league-leading total of 18 interceptions on the season. And it’s not even close.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has thrown the second-most interceptions this season with 12.
The case for Kaepernick in Tampa
The Bucs are 3-7 and long past any reasonable hope of making the playoffs this season. But the time is now to be thinking about who will play quarterback in Tampa Bay next season and beyond.
The Bucs will likely be in the mix for a quarterback in next April’s draft. But they could make use of the six remaining games this season to find out what Kaepernick looks like after three years away from the game.
They’ve got nothing to lose on the football field, and finding out if Kaepernick is an NFL difference maker in 2019 would be a low-risk gamble.
Allen’s worst outing
Allen made his eighth start in place of Cam Newton against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. It was a disaster.
The Panthers backup completed 31-of-50 pass attempts for 325 yards with four interceptions and no touchdowns. He took five sacks. The Panthers lost, 29-3 to a team that started Sunday with two wins.
There was a time when Allen looked capable of leading a talented Panthers team into the playoffs, reeling off four straight victories after taking over for Newton.
That time has passed. Carolina’s now lost three of its past four games while Allen has thrown nine interceptions and three touchdowns.
The case for Kaepernick in Carolina
But the Panthers are 5-5. They’ve got an MVP-caliber running back in Christian McCaffrey. They’re a long shot, but they’re still alive in the wild-card hunt. Allen clearly isn’t going to get them there.
Could Kaepernick? Again, nobody knows what the former NFC champion quarterback would look like on an NFL field after three years away. But Kaepernick has been behind center for successful playoff teams and is worth a roll of the dice.
Newton’s not coming back this season, and a quarterback change looks like Carolina’s only hope for the playoffs. The Panthers, under the ownership of David Tepper, already gambled on signing Kaepernick friend and fellow social justice protestor Eric Reid. The sky didn’t fall in Charlotte.
Kaepernick a low-risk gamble
Nobody knows how serious NFL teams are looking into Kaepernick after Saturday’s workout. Columns have been written ad nauseam in years past over what an obvious upgrade Kaepernick would provide to teams with bad quarterback situations.
But if the window has truly been cracked open for Kaepernick to return, then a pair of NFC South teams look like prime landing spots.
If either the Bucs or Panthers prioritize football performance over fear of backlash, then they should give Kaepernick a look.
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