The New York Jets signed veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian to the practice squad Tuesday, giving them an experienced, if unspectacular, backup to embattled starter Zach Wilson. As the team announced the news, it emerged that Colin Kaepernick had written a letter asking to be part of the team.
The Jets announced the move for Siemian after the 31-year-old passed a physical at the Jets’ practice facility. Wilson has struggled badly since taking over for Aaron Rodgers, who tore his left achilles tendon four snaps into his debut with New York.
News of Kaepernick’s letter came after rapper J Cole shared the document on Instagram on Tuesday. He said he had received permission from the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick last played in the NFL during the 2016 season, when he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice. He has not played in the league after leaving the San Francisco 49ers at the end of that season, and teams are accused of blackballing him due to his political beliefs. The 35-year-old has said in the past that he would be willing to act as a backup if he does return to the league.
In the letter, which is dated 21 September, Kaepernick says he would not try to replace Wilson as starter, but would be part of the practice squad, helping the team prepare for game.
“This would also allow you guys as an organization to take a real look at where I’m at football wise, in game-like situations against an elite defense, while also not putting any competitive pressure on Zach,” he wrote in the letter. “I understand the importance of keeping him confident and focused as QB1, and I would only look to boost that confidence in any interactions that we may have if I was given this role within the team.”
However, Kaepernick also said he would be willing to step in if needed.
“I am sure of my ability to provide you with an elite QB option if, God forbid, QB1 goes down,” he wrote.
It is highly unlikely the Jets would turn to Kaepernick. He will turn 36 in November, hasn’t played professionally in nearly seven years and is unfamiliar with the Jets’ playbook. The Jets have also become talkshow fodder since Rodgers’ injury and are unlikely to want the added off-field attention that would come by signing Kaepernick.
After the Jets’ 15-10 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday dropped them to 1-2, coach Robert Saleh insisted the team was sticking with Wilson as their starting quarteback because “right now, he’s who gives us the best chance to win.”
That didn’t sit well with fans – including Hall of Famer Joe Namath, who said during an interview on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York on Monday that “I’ve seen enough of Zach Wilson.”
During his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday, Rodgers said the Jets “need to hold our poise,” referring to sideline blowups between some players and coaches during the game on Sunday.
Rodgers reiterated he most likely won’t return to the Jets’ facility until he can walk, but said he misses being around his teammates and coaches and the time away has confirmed his desire to continue playing.
“I feel like if I was there, some of those things wouldn’t be happening,” Rodgers said. “Not sure we’d be 3-0, I don’t know. I’d like to think there’s a possibility of that. It’s more the side stuff that I don’t like. I want to see us stick together through the tough times.”
For now, Siemian at least gives Saleh and the Jets another option if Wilson continues to falter, beginning with their next game on Sunday night at home against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Career backup Tim Boyle was the only other quarterback on New York’s roster.
This is Siemian’s second stint with the Jets after he was with them in 2019. He made one start for New York when Sam Darnold was sidelined with mononucleosis, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Cleveland in September.
Siemian was a seventh-round pick of Denver out of Northwestern in 2015 and was a backup to Peyton Manning during the team’s Super Bowl run. He started 24 games over three seasons with the Broncos before being traded to Minnesota in 2018.
After being injured most of the next season with the Jets, Siemian had stints with Tennessee, New Orleans, Chicago and was among Cincinnati’s cuts after training camp this summer. He started one game for the Bears last season – against the Jets in place of an injured Justin Fields. Siemian was 14 of 25 for 179 yards and a touchdown with an interception in Chicago’s 31-10 loss.
Siemian has thrown for 7,027 yards and 42 touchdowns with 28 interceptions during his NFL career. He’s also 13-17 as a starter. This season, Wilson has two touchdown passes and four interceptions with a 52.4% completion rate and is averaging just 5.6 yards per pass.