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Colin Kaepernick vs. RGIII: Who would you rather have on the Seahawks?

UPDATED: Wed., May 17, 2017

The Seahawks, in search of a backup quarterback to Russell Wilson, have apparently set their sights on Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, among others. (File / Associated Press)
The Seahawks, in search of a backup quarterback to Russell Wilson, have apparently set their sights on Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, among others. (File / Associated Press)
By Matt Bonesteel Washington Post

On Monday, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll was asked about Seattle’s search for a quarterback to back up Russell Wilson. Specifically, he was asked about whether his team was interested in Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III, who by most accounts are the top remaining free agent quarterbacks on the market.

“We’re looking at everybody. We really are,” Carroll said. “We’ve been tracking everything that’s going on, and we’ve got cap and roster issues and stuff like that that we’re still trying to manage properly. But quite frankly, yes, we are looking at all those guys.”

So who would you rather have on your team, Kaepernick or Griffin?

Recent on-field history

Even though both quarterbacks led their horrible teams to just one win apiece in 2016, Kaepernick stayed upright for 11 49ers games as compared with five for Griffin, who suffered a shoulder injury in the Browns’ first game of the season and didn’t return until Week 14. Both completed the exact same percentage of their pass attempts – a rather uninspiring 59.2 percent – though Kaepernick had 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions while Griffin posted a 2/3 in a smaller sample size. Kaepernick had the better total quarterback rating, 55.2 to 45. Kaepernick’s numbers also were better in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) and DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), advanced stats that measure a quarterback’s value over a replacement-level or average quarterback (though neither Kaepernick nor Griffin performed particularly well in those departments).

In the locker room

Last season, Kaepernick was named the recipient of the 49ers’ Len Eshmont Award, which is given to the most inspirational and courageous player based on a vote of the team’s players. Chris Cooley, one of Griffin’s former Redskins teammates, once publicly said that Griffin’s wide receivers and offensive linemen didn’t like him, though by all accounts he was an exemplary teammate in Cleveland. The Browns’ players even named him a team captain before the season.

Injury history

Griffin suffered knee injuries in 2012 and 2013, dislocated his ankle in 2014, was concussed in a 2015 preseason game and fractured a bone in his left shoulder in 2016. Kaepernick’s lone major NFL injury came in 2015, when he suffered what was described as an “extensive” labrum tear in his non-throwing shoulder. But he worked his way back and eventually overtook Blaine Gabbert for the 49ers’ starting quarterback job in 2016.

Off-field perception

Kaepernick made waves for kneeling during the national anthem last season, which is either a sign of moral courage or brazen sedition, depending on to whom you’re talking. He reportedly will stop doing that in 2017. Though Griffin comes from an Army family and his patriotism has not been questioned, he is seen by some as a shameless self-promoter and was once described by The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg as “a grinning, egomaniacal hashtag.” This is perhaps the most scathing thing Dan has ever written about anyone ever.


We’re going with Kaepernick as the more desired quarterback, mainly because Griffin has been so beat up over his career and Kaepernick has proven to be more durable. Their numbers actually are fairly similar, and even though Kaepernick has thrown four more interceptions that Griffin over his career, they’ve come on 472 more attempts. Kaepernick also has a better career adjusted net yards per attempt (6.07 to 5.85). There’s also the not-insignificant fact that Kaepernick has helped lead a team to the Super Bowl.

Neither has a job right now, however, and it’ll be curious to see who gets picked up first.

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