Carolina Panthers superstar Cam Newton said Tuesday fellow quarterback Colin Kaepernick is "absolutely" good enough to have a starting job in the NFL and added he believes it's "unfair" the former San Francisco 49ers QB isn't on a roster with the regular season set to get underway.
Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer provided Newton's full comments on the hot-button topic:
Kaepernick has remained a free agent since opting out of his contract with the Niners in March.
While the 29-year-old Wisconsin native has been linked to a few teams during the offseason, including the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars, all signs point toward him sticking on the open market when the season kicks off Thursday night.
Several fellow players, including Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, have spoken out in his favor. Sherman said during an appearance on ESPN's First Take in March he felt NFL owners were "blackballing" Kaepernick for his protest during the national anthem last season, per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com.
"I'm sure he is," Sherman said. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand. Obviously he's going to be in a backup role at this point. But you see quarterbacks, there was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football. You can see that. They signed guys who have had off years before."
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JJ Conrad of NJ Advance Media noted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell downplayed that line of thinking during a stop at New York Jets training camp in July.
"Those are independent decisions that clubs make," he said. "Clubs are going to do what they think is in the best interest of their franchise and what it is that they can do to win."
Kaepernick threw 16 touchdowns and four interceptions across 12 appearances (11 starts) with the 49ers last season. He added 468 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. His Total QBR ranked 23rd out of 30 qualifiers, two spots ahead of Newton, according to ESPN.
His best chance to get signed will come if a contender loses its starting quarterback to a long-term injury and they want to add somebody with postseason experience. But so far teams have opted to look in other directions, even as injuries have arisen.