The workout is Kaepernick’s first with an NFL team since his time out of the league began following the 2016 season. That year, he started kneeling during the national anthem before games as a way of protesting police brutality and racial inequality. He later filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, alleging that its owners were conspiring to keep him out of the league. He and former teammate Eric Reid settled their respective grievances.
In the years since, and particularly in recent months, Kaepernick has spoken about his fitness and worked out publicly in an effort to attract interest from NFL teams. He was an honorary captain during Michigan’s spring football game in April, throwing to receivers during halftime. (Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh coached Kaepernick in San Francisco.)
Kaepernick told a Detroit television station afterwards that he was just looking “for an opportunity, for a door to open” with an NFL team.
“(I) can still get out there, sling it,” Kaepernick told WXYZ Channel 7. “Really, getting out here today for the exhibition was to be able to show that I can do that. Because one of the questions that my agent kept getting was, ‘Well it’s been 5 years, can he still play?’ We wanted to make sure that we come out, we show everyone that I can still play, still throw it.”
It’s notable that the Raiders were the first team in years to offer Kaepernick a workout, given the recent public statements of their owner, Mark Davis.
In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area late last month, Davis said Kaepernick “deserves every chance in the world to become a quarterback in the National Football League.”
“I still stand by it,” Davis said. “If our coaches and general manager want to bring him in or want him to be the quarterback on this team, I would welcome him with open arms.”
Earlier in May, the Raiders traded for Jarrett Stidham to compete with Nick Mullens and rookie Chase Garbers for a backup job behind starter Derek Carr.
A second-round draft pick out of Nevada, Kaepernick started 58 games for the 49ers from 2011 to 2016 and helped lead them to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. He’s thrown for more than 12,000 yards during his NFL career, with 72 career touchdown passes.