Colin Kaepernick: Potential Impact on NFL Offenses
As a change of pace, we're not here to discuss the moral ambitions of Colin Kaepernick. We'll let debate shows, talk radio, and your relatives on social media weigh the pros and cons of CK7's fight for social equality.
We're here to break down the value of Kaepernick the quarterback. More specifically, what boost – if any – he would provide the most sluggish offenses of the NFL and more importantly if he would help their win expectancy.
Using our NFL simulation model, we added Kaepernick to the Browns, Broncos, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Rams, and Jets to evaluate the net effect.
We'll start things off in the woeful AFC South where Marcus Mariota is currently the QB supreme. However, if Kaepernick were to replace Tom Savage and force Deshaun Watson to continue holding that clipboard in Houston, the Texans offense improves from 20.5 to 22.5 points per game against a league-average defense. Plus, their win expectancy jumps from 8.2 wins to 9.1, which would overtake Mariota's Titans for first place. Most of us have long believed that the Texans are a decent quarterback away from being a legitimate contender, and this simulation supports that hypothesis.
Antacid sales are up in the greater-Indianapolis region as Colts fans await Andrew Luck's return. The franchise had so much confidence in Scott Tolzien, they went out and traded for the Patriots third-string quarterback, Jacoby Brissett. Although the front office does stress Brissett is a long-term move. Right.
Indy's win expectancy was only 7.7 with Luck behind center all 16 games – good for third place in the division in our simulations. As the Colts backup ahead of Tolzien, Kaepernick would improve their expected win total to 6.2 compared to 4.9 over a full season, but in both those instances, the team still finishes in fourth place.
Blake Bortles' completion percentage has yet to hit 59-percent or better through his first three seasons. The critics are ready to cast him off as a dud, but second-stringer Chad Henne did nothing to snatch the starting gig away from him this preseason. With Kaepernick, the Jags point production increases to 23.0 PPG against a league average defense and they'd see an uptick of 0.7 in their expected win total, up to 7.9, which would move them ahead of the Colts for third place in the AFC South, but still behind the Titans and Texans.
While we wait-and-see what DeShone Kizer has in store for Browns fans in his rookie season, most would agree Trevor Siemian and Josh McCown aren't fit for long-term reigns in Denver and New York. If the Broncos gave Kaepernick the ball - with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as his top two targets – our simulation projects nearly a two-point jump in points per game against a league average defense and 0.5 more wins, which would bump them from fourth to second in the AFC West (this is an extremely tight division). Kaep would boost the Browns' (6.3) and Jets' (4.7) expected win total by one, but both teams would remain in their division's basement.
The NFC boasts the better quarterbacks overall, so we only focused on a hypothetical Rams depth chart change. If Kaepernick replaced Jared Goff (54.6 comp.%), our NFL models indicate Los Angeles would average 3.3 more points per game and pick up one more win, but would remain well behind the Seahawks in the NFC West. In this instance, the Rams are probably better off seeing what they have in Goff, since the upgrade to Kaepernick wouldn't get them anywhere close to the Seahawks or Cardinals.
Colin Kaepernick is a 29-year-old free agent quarterback with 72 touchdowns, 30 interceptions and 2,300 rushing yards (6.1 YPR) on his resume. If he's interested in playing again and a team is interested in taking him on, it appears he would make an immediate impact, all politics aside.