Why Colin Kaepernick makes sense for the Seahawks

Kaepernick had support among Seahawks players (1:34)

ESPN Seahawks reporter Sheil Kapadia explains why Colin Kaepernick's political stance during the 2016 season should not be an issue with Seattle. (1:34)

Editor's note: This story published May 15 when coach Pete Carroll said Colin Kaepernick was a possibility for the Seahawks.

Before the Seattle Seahawks' 2016 regular-season finale, defensive end Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick met on the field at Levi's Stadium and had a lengthy conversation.

Bennett said afterward he was voicing support for Kaepernick and commended the quarterback on using his role as an athlete to try to promote social change. This was a common theme all season among leaders in Seattle's locker room.

In the 2013 playoffs, the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game, and Kaepernick was pretty much public enemy No. 1 in Seattle. But plenty has changed since then. And coach Pete Carroll said Monday the team is exploring the possibility of signing Kaepernick.

Last September, several Seahawks publicly supported Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem.

"I truly respect what Kaep is doing," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "I think some people are taking it out of context because they're not experiencing the same thing other people are experiencing. They can't really see it."

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said he reached out to Kaepernick and had discussions on the most effective ways for athletes to promote social change. Linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Jeremy Lane supported Kaepernick as well.

"I do support Kaep in what he's doing, the message behind it," Wagner said. "I think sometimes everybody's taking the message wrong because there's a lot of stuff that's going on, a lot of bad stuff that's going on. And that needs to be fixed. So at some point, you've got to do whatever you need to do to get that fixed."

Lane ended up taking a knee during the national anthem of the Seahawks' final preseason game to support Kaepernick. When the regular season started, the Seahawks as a team locked arms during the anthem every week as a show of unity.

Even Richard Sherman -- once thought to be among Kaepernick's biggest rivals -- said in March he thinks the quarterback is being blackballed.

Carroll has never been one to shy away from perceived distractions. Marshawn Lynch, Sherman and Bennett have made plenty of headlines for what they've said (or in Lynch's case, didn't say) over the years. Carroll encourages them to let their personalities show as long as it doesn't negatively affect the team.

In that respect, the Seahawks make as much sense as any in the NFL for Kaepernick. He would fit in well in their locker room. And Carroll wouldn't employ any rules or guidelines about what he could or couldn't say. Even last year with the 49ers, Kaepernick won an award from his teammates for his courage and inspiration.

The question has always been whether Kaepernick makes sense from a football perspective. At the owners' meetings in March, Seattle seemed like an unlikely landing spot for Kaepernick. But things have changed since. Kaepernick remains unsigned, meaning his asking price is likely less than what Seattle anticipated.

And the Seahawks were unable to address the quarterback position (although they tried) in the draft.

Last season, Russell Wilson suffered three different injuries that affected his play. He still has never missed a start in his NFL career, but the Seahawks know they need to be better prepared for that scenario than they were last year. Trevone Boykin, an undrafted free agent last season, was Wilson's backup in 2016 and is in line to do so again. But he was arrested this offseason.

There are two qualities that Kaepernick possesses that make him attractive from an on-field perspective. One, he takes care of the football. This is a pillar of Carroll's philosophy. He can put up with other mistakes as long as the quarterback doesn't give the ball away. Kaepernick's career interception rate is 1.8 percent -- second-best in NFL history to only Aaron Rodgers.

And two, Kaepernick can move. When asked why the Seahawks' run game (and overall offense) stalled last season, Carroll consistently pointed to Wilson's injuries. Seattle still employs plenty of shotgun zone-read runs where the quarterback is asked to account for an unblocked defender. Those runs weren't as available to the Seahawks last season because of Wilson's injuries.

Seattle ranked 23rd in rushing efficiency in 2016. It had never finished below seventh since Wilson was drafted in 2012. It's not just the run game, but the bootlegs and scrambles and improvisational plays. Those are a big part of the Seahawks' offense, and Kaepernick would be able to execute those better than less-mobile quarterbacks.

The Seahawks' offseason has focused on regaining their identity as an efficient run team with a strong defense. But they need to give themselves options should a key player go down.

Kaepernick has his obvious flaws, but he'd be welcomed into the locker room by the Seahawks' leaders and possesses the traits the team wants out of Wilson's backup.

If Kaepernick can't find an opportunity to compete for a starting job elsewhere, Seattle makes perfect sense as his next stop.