By JOSH DUBOW AP professional football writer
Colin Kaepernick is having his first chance to work for an NFL team since he last played in the league in 2016, when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Kaepernick would be working for the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday. People spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced training plans. ESPN first reported that the Raiders were bringing in Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has not played since the end of the 2016 season when he was cut by San Francisco when the new regime led by coach Kyle Shanahan wanted to go in a different direction as quarterback.
Kaepernick never had another chance to even work for NFL teams, claiming he had been criticized for his protests during the previous season’s anthem. He met with Seattle in May 2017 and held informal talks with Baltimore, but never observed more closely.
In 2017 he filed a complaint in the NFL for his lack of opportunities and resolved it in 2019, but still never had another look.
The NFL said it encouraged teams to take a look at Kaepernick. But Kaepernick not only did not sign a contract with any team, but also did not receive training until what is now scheduled for Wednesday.
Kaepernick, 34, recently pitched unselected receivers for NFL scouts at the break of the Michigan Spring Game, at the invitation of Jim Harbaugh, his former coach with the 49ers.
Another potential link with Kaepernick is Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, who was an assistant to the 49ers from 2013 to 2016.
The Raiders have been at the forefront of diversity throughout their history, hiring Tom Flores as the second coach of Hispanic descent, Art Shell as the first black coach in modern history, and Amy Trask as the first female CEO.
Owner Mark Davis has publicly said he would support his coaches if they wanted to take a look at Kaepernick, and freshman coach Josh McDaniels is doing just that.
The Raiders have no obvious need for quarterback after signing incumbent Derek Carr for an extension last month. Las Vegas also signed Nick Mullens as a substitute this offseason, replaced Jarrett Stidham and signed Chase Garbers as an unrecruited free agent.
But none of those substitutes have Kaepernick’s pedigree, who emerged as one of the league’s new stars when he took over as a starter in San Francisco in 2012 and helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl that season, where they were one game away. 34-31 defeat to the Ravens.
Kaepernick’s play began to decline in 2014 and he injured half of the following season and lost his starting job. Things changed the following preseason when Kaepernick began protesting during the national anthem, angering critics, including then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Kaepernick regained his starting job in 2016 and threw 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions in 12 games while earning a 90.7 pinch pass.
AP Pro Football writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.
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