A placeholder for Kaepernick

AP PhotoFormer NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick smiles on stage during W.E.B. Du Bois Medal ceremonies at Harvard. Kaepernick reportedly still wants to play in the NFL, even if he has to compete to get on the field.

PHILADELPHIA -- No, the Eagles shouldn’t sign Colin Kaepernick. Not yet.

Carson Wentz is healthy. If that changes, as it changed each of the past four years, then yes, Kaepernick is Plan B, assuming Nate Sudfeld’s broken left wrist is fully healed. If Sudfeld is still hurt, then Kaepernick becomes Plan A.

The Eagles are built to win now. If All-Pro tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are healthy, the Birds are, on paper, a superior team to the 2017 championship edition. That’s why, if Wentz gets hurt, it would be foolish to disqualify Kaepernick.

No, he hasn’t played a game in two years. So what. Kaepernick’s better than what’s behind Sudfeld now. Kaepernick will be better than what’s behind Sudfeld when Kaepernick is drawing Social Security.

Worried about fan reaction? Please. Half the fans will love him, a quarter will hate him, the rest won’t care, which was the popularity graph for Donovan McNabb. If anyone gives up their season tickets, they’ll be snapped up in 30 seconds; the waiting list is generations long. Worried about a decline in television viewership? Worried that sponsors will bolt? Go ask Nike about that. America has spoken with its pocketbooks. Kap might have enemies, but he’s got a lot of friends, too.

There are other Kap-related issues. He wore socks that depicted cops as pigs, and he wore a Fidel Castro T-shirt, and each time he gave lousy explanations and no apologies. So what. When he last played, for the 49ers in 2016, he was a self-absorbed 29-year-old millennial who thought he knew more than he did. If that suddenly disqualifies you for employment then Google’s going to have a lot of job openings and Facebook will need a new CEO.

Do Kaepernick’s righteous principles and clunky protests wound your little sensitivities? Toughen up, snowflake. This ain’t pickle ball. It’s business. You get 16 chances to qualify for a gladiator tournament that’s held in the middle of the winter. Watching one player kneel for 2 minutes isn’t going to turn you into a commie.

Will Kaepernick be a distraction? Certainly, he will be a distraction. Tim Tebow, the Bible-thumping, anti-abortion underwear model who also was a terrible quarterback was a huge distraction.

We all work amid distractions. For that matter, we all have coworkers whose politics don’t exactly match our own. Does it affect how we work? No. Would Kaepernick’s presence affect how his teammates’ play? Of course not. To suggest such a thing is more an insult to the players than an indictment of Kaepernick, who, by all reports, has always been a superb teammate.

The Wentz Factor _ well, that’s another discussion. Wentz might have been too fragile to handle Nick Foles, Perfect American, as his backup.

But if Wentz is out of the picture then, a thousand times, yes to Kaepernick. By any measure, now or in November, Kaepernick is a better option than Clayton Thorson, who sounds like he should be helping Gilligan get off the island. You want a playmaking athlete in his physical prime. You want a disposable asset to warm the seat. You want a guy who has known pressure and craves it. You do not want 6-foot-1, fourth-string soft-tosser Cody Kessler. In May, nobody wanted Cody Kessler.

It really doesn’t matter if Kaepernick has conniption fits and speaks in tongues during the military flyover, as long as he reads the blitz and hits DeSean Jackson on the hot crossing route. If you support the Eagles, and if you pretend you really care, then you’re a hypocrite. Eagles fans have no historical pattern of principled behavior.

In a wildly liberal city, as the nation struggles through a national firearms crisis, the Eagles’ franchise quarterback is a gun-loving game hunter who, as a rookie, gave his offensive linemen shotguns for Christmas.

If Philly loves anything more than Eagles, it’s dogs, but rest assured, most of the animal lovers who swore lifelong boycotts after Jeffrey Lurie signed canine hangman Michael Vick in 2009 rejoiced as Jason Kelce strutted down Broad Street after Super Bowl LII.

Besides, Philadelphia has been the eye of the protest hurricane for the past two years. Malcolm Jenkins — a Kaepernick sympathizer who also protested during the anthem and who constantly trumpets his progressive platforms — has become the spokesman for the movement. Face it: If you selectively despise “traitors” because one grows a big afro and the other one doesn’t (can’t, really), then the “treason” isn’t the problem, is it?

Could Kap and Jenkins coexist? That’s a valid question, especially after Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate and most loyal peer, accosted Jenkins before the Panthers played the Eagles in October, then called Jenkins a “sellout” after the game. Understand this, though: Jenkins consistently campaigned for Kaepernick’s return to the NFL before and after that incident, and Jenkins routinely rips NFL owners for blackballing Kap.

Can Kap play? Please. He had a 1-10 record in 2016, but that was an epically bad 49ers team coached by Chip Kelly, who’s been out of the NFL ever since. Kaepernick nonetheless compiled a respectable 90.7 passer rating, thanks mostly to his touchdown-to-interception ratio. It’s not as much the 16 TDs as it is the four INTs that make him an intriguing post-Wentz option. Four picks in 11 games indicate maturity. Remember: a backup quarterback’s main task is not to win the game. It’s to not lose it.

Kap isn’t great. He’s flawed. But he is more than good enough. If Wentz goes down for the fifth time in five seasons, with no Nick Foles in the nest, that’s all that should matter.

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(c)2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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