Saturday should have been a moment all NFL fans were able to witness. They were, but not in the way expected. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was expected to have his practice session at the Atlanta Falcons practice facility.  Instead, he called an audible and went to an open field. 

Some could have been upset about his decision to decide against the league’s policy. One look into negotiations could change the narrative. According to a report from Pro Football Talk, the NFL tried to put Kapernick in a checkmate by having him sign a waiver of potential employment claims. The report stated that should the quarterback injure himself at an event hosted by the league; they would be protected when filing for an injury claim. 

Never before has the NFL made a player, no matter the circumstance, sign a clause such as this. With his refusal, the workout would not take place under the direction of league’s policy. 

In front of eight NFL team scouts and multiple media members, Kaepernick proved two things; the deep pass was there and the NFL now is going to hear about it. Kaepernick’s plan to host the tryout in public was refused by the league, so he did it on his terms. 

And so he should. 

With members of the media in line, everyone saw what looked like a profitable pocket-passer still able to play in the league. Kaepernick would make about 40 throws, connecting on a majority of them, specifically downfield towards the sideline. Following the workout, he laid out a clear message to the league about his stance moving forward. 

“I’ve been ready for three years,” Kaepernick said. “I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why I came out here. [I] showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide. So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them stop running. Stop running from the truth. Stop running from the people.

“We’re out here. We’re ready to play. We’re ready to go anywhere. My agent, Jeff Nalley, is ready to talk [to] any team. I’ll interview with any team at any time. I’ve been ready.”

To plainly put it, there is a place in the league for “that” Colin Kaepernick. The one who looked just as advertised throughout the three years he would not suit up and play a single down. All the signs point towards a player who not only can still play the game but wants to be there. 

The question remains still; who will be the team to sign him? 

For that to happen, there are multiple layers to dissect. For starters, yes, the signing of a player surrounded by the term “social injustice” would bring the attention of not just the local, but also national media as well. That would likely die down following his first game. 

In 2018, the Carolina Panthers signed Eric Reid following his support to Kaepernick in late September. He would go on to be productive on the field and earned a three-year extension. And for the “media fiasco” that was to occur? It lasted all of a dozen days. 

On Saturday, the safety was in attendance and gave his thoughts on how Kaepernick’s workout could translate to the NFL. 

“The proof of the workout was to show he can play the game, was to show he can throw the ball, and he did that,” Reid said according to ESPN’s David Newton. “The NFL wanted to control the narrative by not letting independent NFL media into the workout to document the workout.”  

Perhaps the league did hope to control the outing in favor of a justifiable cause to keep him out of the game for longer. If so, the plan might have failed, as there was a report of one executive stating he had an “elite” arm. 

In the locker room, he’d be one of the players. Likely to begin as a backup, Kaepernick would need to earn his way up the depth chart into a starting role. One can’t go from throwing on the streets to starting in an NFL game. 

But then again, could they if it was the former No.7?

Keep in mind that the 49ers roster had zero issues with Kapernick’s stance during the 2016 season. So long as he would show up to practice and work to provide what’s best for his team, where does the “locker room cancer” narrative lie? 

All it takes is one team to pull the trigger. No promises need to be made, guidelines set or setbacks that could derail the return of what seems to be a quality quarterback in the works. Just let him play and take it from there. The reality is though that zero teams will be able to do that so long as the NFL has full control. 

“I think, myself, I think all of you all had questions about it all week,” Nalley said. “Something didn’t smell right. Again, nothing like this has ever happened. Roger Goodell said that the league does not get involved in player workouts, team decisions. So why did they do this? So I think from the beginning it seemed odd. And so that’s why we had to protect him in this whole process.”

Kaepernick has all the tools to make a roster, but the politics that began a “witch hunt” against him will likely continue to be the reason he doesn’t make the cut. The NFL still employs Trump supporters, players who followed his causes and all those in the middle. 

Why not merely employ the player who could be a decent backup and fill in when needed? Simple: the NFL will need to continue that narrative. 

Here’s the problem NFL; the world saw what Kaepernick could do. Time to change the narrative of why he’s out. 

Last weekend I was away on a cruise ship to take some time for myself. Now, I’m back, and so is the Two Minute Warning. Sunday brought some controversial calls, highlight plays, and last-second swings to give teams a boost for their postseason push. Let’s dive into some of the conversations around the league this Monday morning.

Here’s a good topic;  is Russell Wilson the league leader for MVP? He was until….

Now believe in Lamar Jackson 

If you could take away one thing from Houston’s embarrassing loss to the Ravens, it is to know that Jackson is the real deal. Although some had supported him to become part of the race, it seemed as if some fans just wanted another competitor to stop Wilson running away with it. Well, they chose the right quarterback to support. 

Jackson shined against an injured-riddled Texans’ secondary, which saw both Lonnie Johnson and Justin Reid leave the game. Throwing for 222 yards and adding 86 more on the ground, the second-year pro would lead the team to a 41-7 victory. Oh, and it wasn’t his legs that are making the headlines, as the four touchdowns were scored all through the air. 

Jackson has improved as a pocket passer thanks to Greg Roman’s direction. Perhaps the skills were always there, but the production has increased in just a season’s time. Since taking over as the starter, Jackson has lost just three games. That’s after the fact that several scouts expected him to switch positions at the next level. 

Now the Ravens look like a contender to win it all. Although the battle will go through New England more than likely, it’s no longer Patrick Mahomes versus Tom Brady. Jackson and Baltimore could realistically go into Foxborough and beat the team they’ve already dethroned once this season. 

Even if they don’t quite manage to do that, Jackson and the Ravens are for real. It’s time for the rest of the AFC to get used to it. 

Probably should believe in Dak, too

Jackson wasn’t the only quarterback to start rising in the MVP ranks Sunday. A majority of people believed the race behind Wilson belonged to Jackson and Deshaun Watson. 

Right state, wrong city. 

Prescott has proven not only is he a franchise quarterback, but also a pretty damn good overall player. Granted, Detroit is nothing to write home about, but neither was the Cowboys’ signal-caller entering the season. Prescott threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns on the way to a victory Sunday afternoon. 

Yeah, 444 yards. Divide the one, carry the “x”… oh, that’s nearly half of 1000 yards.

Prescott has now thrown for 3,221 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season. Unless Philip Rivers throws for 500 tonight, he’ll be leading the NFL in passing yards come Tuesday morning. Add on improvement in the turnover department and you’re looking at more than a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. 

When drafted, Ezekiel Elliott was supposed to be the future of the offense. He’s productive, but no longer is he the face of the team down in Arlington. Zeke now splits that title with Prescott thanks to the success had in 2019. Be careful too; he could sneak his way into being the complete face of the roster. 

NFL Officials – Who is paying you?

Outside of losing to Baltimore, Houston’s day would be remembered more for a play that could have changed the outcome early. Watson tried to connect with DeAndre Hopkins for a touchdown. The only problem was Marlon Humphrey looked like he was holding his hand on a date to the prom. 

The officials ruled no pass interference, leading to a Houston challenge. The same result would follow after review, and cost the Texans not just a touchdown, but also a timeout. 

Here, you be the judge and tell if this is clear pass interference…you know what, I’m going to stop you and tell you it is. 

The same thing would happen later that afternoon when 49ers’ fullback Kyle Juszczyk would tackle Cardinals’ linebacker Joe Walker on an overthrown pass. The problem was Walker was called for pass interference, leading to a 15-yard penalty against Arizona. 

The problem with the plays is far beyond a referee making a mistake, but rather when challenged, the process does not work. More often than not, the ruling remains in favor of the original call and forces the challenging team to lose a timeout. 

It will be interesting to see what the NFL does in the offseason to correct this mistake. One thought could be getting rid of the ability to challenge pass interference altogether. It’s not like anyone would know it was gone in the first place. 

So ummm…the Raiders? 

Remember when Jon Gruden got Reggie McKenzie fired, hired Mike Mayock, made all those free-agent signings and pretty much drafted his guys? Remember when people called the Raiders a dumpster fire for their offseason troubles with Antonio Brown. 

Jon Gruden’s voice: I’ll tell you what man, Jon Gruden remembers like he remembers a Spider 2 Y Banana play. 

The Raiders now sit at 6-4 following their 17-10 victory over the Bengals. It’s the Bengals, so naturally, a win was coming, but the team is still two games above .500 without several key players. Brown is no longer a part of the equation, but that hasn’t stopped the team from winning games heading into the final part of the season. 

Which begs into question; just how real are the Raiders? 

All four losses have come from teams in the playoff hunt, two by NFC North foes. Oakland will close out the year with games against the New York Jets, Kansas City, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Chargers, and Denver. The team has already beaten a battered Denver roster and Jacksonville, Tennessee and Los Angeles all have their faults. The Raiders could happily take victories against two of the four, then beat the Broncos and Jets to finish 10-6. 

That really should be enough to get them to the postseason as the second wild card team. With Buffalo looking like contenders, the Raiders likely would be fighting for the six seed come late December. Should they stay healthy, expect them to be in contention. 

Parting Shots

10) Scary hits are never fun to see in the NFL and Sunday featured one a little terrifying. Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate would leave on a stretcher after suffering a neck injury late in the fourth quarter. Pro Football Network will keep you up to date on his status. 

9) Prayers also go out to Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The junior who was expected to be a consensus top-five pick in April’s draft will undergo surgery this Monday to fix a dislocated hip suffered against Mississippi State. Recovery time could play a massive factor in his decision when to go pro and his draft stock when he does.

8) Step 1 on not causing an interception: catch the ball. Step 2: Catch it in front of you. 

Everyone and their mother knows that Jameis Winston is a problem, but interceptions like that shouldn’t count against quarterbacks.

7) Dalvin Cook should be the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, but Cooper Kupp is going to give him a run for the money. 

6) Dear Jimmy Garoppolo, BE GOOD OR BE BAD! I’m so tired of giving you stick and then you make plays like this! 

5) Also, tell Deebo Samuel (my WR #2) to keep making plays like this one. 

4) Before Greg Olsen trademarks this phrase, I call dibs. What a weird, yet oddly true statement about Sunday’s loss to Atlanta for Carolina…and I’m making the person who comes in last of fantasy use that as his name 

3) Here’s one thing Washington got right for their future: Terry McLaurin. 

That’s it, that’s the story.

2) Nick Foles made his return to the NFL Sunday, but more on that later this week. Although the Jaguars lost and the debate for Minshew Maina to return will be there, DJ Chark is emerging as a quality top-tier receiver. 

1) Who doesn’t love a good meme? I know I do. Here are Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ cleats for Sunday featuring one of the best memes out there right now. 

Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson.