Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports



When Colin Kaepernick opted out of the final year of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following a meeting with new general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, there was an abundance of speculation about what that would mean for his career going forward. When he went through the entire offseason unsigned, while a number of less-accomplished quarterbacks found jobs, the theory emerged that Kaepernick was being blackballed by the NFL for his stance on social injustice in America.

Several league officials and media personalities scoffed at this assertion and argued that his lack of employment stemmed from the fact that he simply is not a good quarterback. However, when this line of reasoning is held up to statistical analysis, it proves to be erroneous. When others, mostly NFL players, stepped up to defend Kaepernick and suggest that he is clearly deserving of a spot on a roster, the debate began in earnest: is Colin Kaepernick being blackballed by the National Football League?

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It didn't take long for us to get the ultimate litmus test for this theory. Conventional wisdom suggests that it will take an injury for Kaepernick to get signed at this point. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is suffering from the effects of a back injury and is projected to be out anywhere from three-six weeks. The Ravens open their season in six weeks against the Cincinnati Bengals.

If you were to pick one team in the entire NFL that would be the best fit for Kaepernick at this point, it would probably be the Baltimore Ravens for a number of reasons:

1) The Harbaughs

Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh handpicked Kaepernick to be his quarterback back in 2011 and has remained one of his biggest supporters. Harbaugh's brother John, of course, is the head coach of the Ravens. John Harbaugh said of Kaepernick, "I've known Colin through my brother for many years. And we talked and then got to know him very well when he scrimmaged him here. He and I have been talking throughout the summer a number of times. We had some great conversations on the phone and it's really been a pleasure to talk to him and get to know him. I like history and politics too, and we've had some debates, and it's been fun. He's a great guy." That statement speaks volumes.

2) Greg Roman

During Jim Harbaugh's tenure in San Francisco, Greg Roman was his offensive coordinator. Arguably, no one in the building worked more closely with Kaepernick than Roman. Roman's current position? He is the Senior Offensive Assistant for the Ravens.

3) Flacco's Stature and Style

Flacco and Kaepernick share several traits as NFL quarterbacks. They are both tall: Flacco stands 6'6" and Kaepernick is 6'4". They both have extremely strong arms, arguably the two strongest arms in the league. The biggest knock on Kaepernick by critics has been his completion percentage, which is 59.8% for his career. However, Flacco's career completion percentage, at 61.5%, is not much better. It's not like Kaepernick would be stepping in for someone like Drew Brees or Tom Brady, who are known for getting the ball out of their hands quickly and completing an extremely high percentage of their passes. Flacco, like Kaepernick, is more apt to hold on to the ball and look for big strikes down the field rather than dink and dunk down the field with check downs. Kaepernick's career quarterback rating of 88.9 is actually higher than Flacco's, which is 84.5.

4) Baltimore's Demographics

New York Giants co-owner John Mara raised eyebrows earlier this year when discussing fan response to Kaepernick's protest. Mara stated, "In all my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue. If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn't one or two letters. It was a lot." This was especially notable considering that the Giants re-signed kicker Josh Brown to a two-year contract after claims of abusing his wife came to light. The Giants eventually cut him.

Baltimore has the fifth-highest African-American population in the country at 65.1%. A September 2016 study by yougov.com revealed that 72% of African-Americas support Kaepernick. Baltimore was at the forefront of protests across the country following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police. At the very least, Baltimoreans of every race who disagree with Kaepernick have at least been exposed to dialogue about these issues and it wouldn't be a culture shock having a player on the team who's taken the stance that he has. Looking objectively at which NFL cities would be the most receptive to Kaepernick as a whole, Baltimore would have to be at or near the top of the list.

5) The Ravens' Backup Quarterbacks

The only other quarterbacks on Baltimore's roster are career backup Ryan Mallet, who has seven career touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 64.9 rating, and former undrafted, Division II, perennial practice squad quarterback Dustin Vaughan, who's never appeared in a regular season game.

6) Timing

Today is the first day of Ravens training camp. Teams often don't want to rely on new quarterbacks towards the end of camp and would rather go with the quarterbacks who have taken all of the reps. Signing Kaepernick now would give him an entire camp to prepare for the season in case Flacco's back injury lingers longer than expected, which is not uncommon for back injuries.

Taking these factors into consideration, if Colin Kaepernick is not signed by the Baltimore Ravens, it will be hard to argue that the reason has anything to do with football.