According to a document obtained by NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk, the league tried to force Kaepernick to sign a waiver to protect itself from future lawsuits and prevent the blackballed quarterback from pursuing legal action against the NFL for collusion or retaliation.
Kaepernick refused to sign the document and instead hosted his own private workout open to all teams an hour after the scheduled NFL workout, but fewer franchises attended than were expected to participate in the NFL-run version.
Heading into the weekend, it looked as though Colin Kaepernick was well on his way to getting another shot in the NFL.
But as with most things surrounding the controversial quarterback, his scheduled NFL workout became a topic of debate.
Kaepernick was slated to partake in a private workout organized by the NFL to display his abilities for a number of interested franchises. According to the league, various clubs had previously inquired about the former San Francisco 49er's "readiness" for NFL play, and Saturday's scheduled workout and interview were meant to provide them with answers.
Instead, the NFL's original event fell apart, in large part, because the league tried to force Kaepernick to sign a waiver to protect itself from future lawsuits.
According to a copy of the three-page document obtained by NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk, the league included language regarding Kaepernick's employment status that could have potentially barred him from making future claims of collusion or retaliation against the NFL. Kaepernick has famously engaged in litigation against the league over claims that he has been blackballed by NFL owners since he last played in 2017.
See photos from the workout:
The second paragraph of the waiver required Kaepernick to acknowledge that he was "made no promise of employment" and that "his participation in the Workout does not guarantee that [he] will be offered employment." On its own, that language likely wouldn't limit the quarterback's legal freedoms, but combined with legalese from a few paragraphs down, it could easily restrict his ability to pursue legal action against the NFL in the future.
In the seventh paragraph, the league required Kaepernick to "hold harmless National Invitational Camp, Inc., National Football Scouting, Inc., the owner(s), operator(s) and manager(s) of the Facility, any and all individuals participating in or present at the Workout, including, without limitation, Joe Philbin, the National Football League ("NFL") and each of its 32 NFL Member Clubs, and each of the foregoing parties' respective direct and indirect affiliates, partners, subsidiaries, agents, representatives, employees, shareholders, officers, directors, attorneys, insurers, successors and assigns (collectively, the "Released Parties"), from and against any and all claims, demands, actions, causes of action, suits, grievances, costs, losses, expenses, damages, injuries, illnesses, and losses (including death) caused by, arising out of, occurring during, or related directly or indirectly to the Workout, Player's presence at the Facility, and any medical treatment or services rendered in connection with or necessitated by Player's participation in the Workout."
If you strip the paragraph down to its bones, the NFL is requiring Kaepernick to "hold harmless ... the National Football League ("NFL") and each of its 32 NFL Member Clubs ... from and against any and all claims, demands, actions, causes of action, suits, grievances, costs, losses, expenses, damages, injuries, illnesses, and losses (including death) caused by, arising out of, occurring during, or related directly or indirectly to the Workout."
A broad reading of that stipulation and specifically the "related directly or indirectly to the Workout" clause could be interpreted as an attempt to limit Kaepernick's ability to claim that the NFL and its franchises are continuing to collude in an attempt to blackball him from the league.
Kaepernick refused to sign the document and instead hosted his own private workout open to all teams. Far fewer franchises attended than were expected to participate in the NFL-run event, but the film of Kaepernick's throws show that he still has quite a powerful arm.
Whether or not Saturday's festivities actually constitute a step towards reincorporating Kaepernick into the league remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the controversy surrounding the former star is as heated as ever.