The Panthers aren’t going to rush out to sign Colin Kaepernick anytime soon, but the signing of Eric Reid makes it a possible move for Carolina.
Signing Eric Reid proved that the Carolina Panthers are willing to look past a player’s politics if they believe he can help them on the field. If Carolina is willing to make that kind of move to cover up for an injured safety, it’s only natural to assume they’d do the same if they suffered an injury at quarterback.
With all due respect to Taylor Heinecke, the Panthers are going to need to look for outside help at the game’s most important position if Cam Newton is forced to miss significant time due to injury. The reality is that Colin Kaepernick is arguably the most talented free agent signal-caller on the market. If Newton did go down with a serious injury, the Panthers would immediately become Kaepernick’s best shot of getting back into the NFL.
The former 49ers starter isn’t a perfect quarterback, but neither is Newton. The two play the position somewhat similarly. Both guys have the arm strength to throw downfield, but they’re at their best when coaching staff allow them to operate out on the edge. Kaepernick isn’t nearly as good as Newton, but signing him would allow the Panthers offense to continue to run approximately the same offensive system.
Before you disregard this idea out of hand, consider what head coach Ron Rivera said about signing Reid during this week’s press conference. He emphasized to reporters that bringing Reid into the fold was a “football decision.” The obvious inference there is that the organization was willing to prioritize on-field impact over potential political unrest.
Admittedly, signing Kaepernick would create a bigger public relations firestorm than Reid. He is, after all, considered to be the face of political discord in the NFL by many fans. A lot of Panthers fans would love to see the team sign Kaepernick, but a significant number would also find the move to be offensive.
Of course, the one thing NFL fans usually find more offensive than political dissidence is losing football games. That is ultimately the reason why Kaepernick still has a shot at playing in the NFL again. The minute the Panthers signed Reid, it put them on the short list of franchises that would consider signing Kaepernick as well. It’s a move the Panthers hope they never have to make, but if Newton goes down it’s something the franchise will definitely consider.