MIAMI — The phrase “hedging one’s bets” is gambling parlance that has broadened to more general use. It basically means doing something to offset a potential future loss.
The Miami Dolphins have cause to do that right now. And the opportunity is right in front of them, about as obvious as a neon sign blinking in a dimly lit barroom.
You may have heard the name.
Bear with me for a second. I know the very utterance of those very five syllables is an anathema to many of you. Those many evidently include 32 NFL teams, considering Kaepernick has effectively been blackballed from making a living into a third year now over the anthem-kneeling protest he started in 2016.
(You know by now that the protest is over social injustice. Right? That it has zero to do with any disrespect of the flag or the military or any of that other stuff his haters put forth. You know that what he’s done is not only not anti-American, it is so very American. You know it, and the NFL knows it, and yet illogically — stunningly, really, an ongoing stain on the sport — his ban continues).
So the NFL invited teams to a workout with Kaepernick on Saturday near Atlanta, and 25 of 32 planned to send a representative. There were issues that caused Kaepernick to instead hold his own workout about 100 miles away. Eight teams were there: reportedly the Chiefs, Eagles, 49ers, Jets, Lions, Redskins, Titans and one unnamed team (after the Bills denied they went).
Dolphins coach Brian Flores had said the team would be represented at the original NFL-affiliated audition, but Miami didn’t show at what actually went on.
The whole idea of a group audition was silly anyway, considering Kaepernick has been a free agent available to anyone for the past 2 ½ seasons. Any team could have flown him in for a tryout, a physical, an interview — whatever. Nobody did.
Will anybody sign him now after the weekend dog-and-pony show? Who knows.
But I know of at least one team that should.
Nobody needs a quality quarterback more than the Dolphins.
And two factors — Cincinnati being 0-10 to Miami’s 2-8, and Tua Tagovailao’s hip surgery Monday throwing his once-vaunted draft status into some doubt — means the Fins might not be in a position to get their first-choice QB in next April’s draft.
They might still, yes, but signing Kaepernick would be hedging that bet in a big way. It would be a safety net for Miami.
I have been on the Kaep-to-Miami bandwagon before, but Tagovailoa’s latest serious injury coupled with the Bengals’ ongoing master class in How Properly to Tank torque up the urgency and need.
“I’ve been ready. I’m staying ready. And I’ll continue to be ready,” Kaepernick said Saturday. “The ball’s in their court.”
The quarterback appeared in great shape, and a league executive told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he threw the ball well and that his arm talent looked “elite.”
This is a 6-4, 225-pound dual-threat QB who has led a team to a Super Bowl and when last we saw him was throwing 19 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Kaepernick is younger at 32 and better than Ryan Fitzpatrick. (We can probably forget Josh Rosen at this point). So, not now, but moving forward, Kaepernick would be a sizable upgrade heading into 2020 — whether as a stopgap starter or a backup to whomever is drafted, whenever that rookie might be ready.
Said Panthers safety Eric Reid, a former 49ers teammates of Kapernick’s: “He’s been working out every day for three years. Can you imagine the mental fortitude it takes to stay in shape for three years while somebody is blackballing you for standing up for people who have been wronged?”
Alabama’s Tagovailoa, once the consensus first quarterback to be drafted in 2020, now may be third behind LSU’s Joe Burrow and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Tagovailoa had ankle surgery in October, now the surgery for a dislocated hip.
“He’s not 6-3, he doesn’t have big-time arm strength, now the durability concern is obviously real,” as ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. says.
The Bengals and Redskins currently would draft ahead of Miami. Cincinnati plainly needs a QB, with Andy Dalton benched and Ryan Finley not very good. And the Redskins do not seem sold on Dwayne Haskins.
(The Dec. 22 Bengals at Dolphins game could be interesting. Wonder if Cincy, trying to clinch the No. 1 pick, might discover Finley has a three-hour flu and Dalton has a headache and so undrafted rookie “Jake Dolagala” will be starting?)
There is a very real chance Miami may be relegated to QB No. 3 and that that could be, in Tagovailoa, someone red-flagged for injuries.
I still think the Fins will get a top guy, likelier Herbert or Tagovailoa, but, again, Kaepernick would be the hedge. The insurance policy that doesn’t cost much but offers big dividends.
With getting their No. 1 QB choice more and more dicey, Miami needs that right now.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross founded R.I.S.E, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. His recent fundraiser for Donald Trump seemed at sharp odds with the R.I.S.E. mission statement, which even the group’s CEO acknowledged.
Ross and what that group is meant to stand for makes his Dolphins the perfect team to boldly take a shot here.
That Colin Kaepernick deserves another chance in the NFL is the truth without a shred of doubt.
Just as much, though, some team out there willing to be brave is poised to get an experienced, proven quarterback who is beyond motivated to prove the world wrong.
It should be Miami.
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