By Brendan O’Brien and Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – The Miami Dolphins and other clubs will attend Colin Kaepernick’s audition at a special workout hosted by the National Football League (NFL) on Saturday, opening the possibility that the former quarterback could return to the game three years after his protests against racial injustice roiled the sport.
Kaepernick, who has been unable to find a team to sign him since 2017, was among the first players to kneel during the pregame U.S. national anthem in protest against extrajudicial killings of black people by police.
One of the most outspoken of the protesting players, Kaepernick contends that teams would not sign him because they wanted to distance themselves from the protests, which U.S. President Donald Trump blasted as unpatriotic and disrespectful.
“Having that much time off you have to get back into the swing of things,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores told reporters on Wednesday. “But he was a very good player so we’ll see what it looks like and do our due diligence and take it from there.”
Flores said he had not yet finalized who from his staff would attend, and said his primary focus was on Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins have struggled this season, with a 2-7 record, as well as one of the worst-ranked offenses in the league.
The Detroit Lions, the New England Patriots, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals are among the teams that are also expected to send representatives to the audition, according to media reports.
Late on Tuesday, Kaepernick said in a Twitter message that the NFL’s head office reached out to his representatives regarding the workout in Atlanta on Saturday.
“I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs,” said Kaepernick.
Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against NFL owners in October 2017 after going unsigned as a free agent. The two sides resolved the grievance in February under a confidentiality agreement.
The workout on Saturday will consist of on-field activities and interviews with team officials, according to ESPN.
“We have … arranged this opportunity for him to work out, and for all clubs to have the opportunity to evaluate his current readiness and level of interest in resuming his NFL career,” the league said in a memo, according to ESPN.
Kaepernick supporter Eric Reid of the Carolina Panthers said his former team mate was in excellent condition but that the tryout did not feel like a legitimate opportunity.
“At this point it feels like a PR stunt being that it is on a Saturday,” when most teams are preparing for Sunday games, he told reporters.
“What decision makers are going to be able to attend that workout? We’ll see if it’s a real process. We’ll see if it’s a real event.”
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Additional reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Matthew Lewis)