The Seahawks have signed the veteran backup quarterback they’ve been seeking.
And it’s not Colin Kaepernick.
It’s Austin Davis. He made a free-agent visit with the team two weeks ago--the same week Kaepernick did.
Davis is 28 years old. He has 10 career starts. Two came for Cleveland in 2015, the last season he appeared in a game, and eight for the St. Louis Rams in 2014. One of those starts was a win over Seattle, Oct. 19, 2014, 28-26 at St. Louis. He spent last season on the bench for the Denver Broncos.
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So it’s Davis, a former undrafted free agent, who will battle second-year man Trevone Boykin for the Seahawks’ number-two job behind Russell Wilson. Seattle released quarterback Jake Heaps when it announced Monday’s signing of Davis before the fourth organized-team-activity practice of the last two weeks.
Why Austin Davis instead of the more-more-accomplished Kaepernick, the former Super Bowl starter with the San Francisco 49ers who remains unemployed?
To hear coach Pete Carroll tell it, it’s not because of money or Kaepernick’s social activism or him kneeling in protest during national anthems before games or any of that.
It is, the coach said, because Davis is a backup, journeyman quarterback (Seattle will be his fourth team in six NFL seasons) -- and Kaepernick is a starter the Seahawks do not need. Not with Russell Wilson entrenched as their $87.6 million face and cornerstone of the franchise.
"He’s a starter. And we have a starter," Carroll said Friday, one week after Kaepernick’s much-ballyhooed free-agent visit to Seattle. The Seahawks remain the only team to be interested enough in the controversial Kaepernick to even give him a look in free agency since he and the 49ers parted ways in January.
"But he’s a starter in this league,” Carroll said, “and I can’t imagine somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
It’s just not going to be the Seahawks, the team that may fit Kaepernick best in offensive style, locker-room support and championing of individuality and outspokenness.
The implication of what Carroll said seemed clear to me on Friday. Seattle was offering minimum, backup money for a 29-year-old veteran of the game’s biggest stage that thinks he’s worthy of more starter-like money -- if not a starting job in the league.
Carroll refused to comment Friday on contract specifics the team discussed with Kaepernick, a starter the last five years for San Francisco.
There is, of course, more to it with Kaepernick.
Kaepernick retweeted that on Monday, just after the Seahawks signed Davis.
On Monday, before Davis signed, Seahawks top wide receiver Doug Baldwin was asked on Sirius XM NFL satellite radio how Kaepernick would be received in Seattle’s locker if he were to be the backup QB.
“Regardless of what’s happened in the past, regardless of what’s been out in the media, anything that been discussed, we wouldn’t treat him any differently,” Baldwin said, a few minutes after saying he and his teammates “celebrate individuality” in their locker room.
“From what I understand, from everything I’ve heard, he’s nothing but a great guy in the locker room, a team guy,” said Baldwin, who met with Kaepernick last year when both players were taking on social issues. “And players love him because of his work ethic. So with all those attributes, I don’t think he would not fit into our locker room.
“And, again, we having a very welcoming, inviting locker room. ... If he was on our team, I would welcome him with open arms.”
If Carroll is taken literally -- and if it’s true money was not a factor in this decision, an assertion that, again, Kaepernick himself retweeted Monday -- then what’s left? Is it that Kaepernick is too accomplished, too good, for the Seahawks to want him behind or paired with Wilson? Indeed, signing Davis keeps Wilson so far ahead of everyone else at number one there is no issue with the backup.
No issue of any kind.
Or is it something else, part of why Kaepernick remains unsigned?