Colin Kaepernick was without a team in 2017, but it wasn't without at least some interest from one club.
The Seattle Seahawks indicated they were interested in the quarterback's services after he became available in 2017. Kaepernick had been in San Francisco for the duration of his NFL career -- which included a trip to Super Bowl XLVII -- but became a free agent when he opted out of his contract after the 49ers, led by the newly hired John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, made it clear to him he'd be released by the team if he didn't opt out.
Kaepernick made a visit to the Seahawks during that offseason, and while it didn't produce a contract, the meeting in 2017 stuck in the mind of at least one other NFL franchise. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters he got a call from another team for the first time Thursday regarding Kaepernick and asking why Seattle was interested in the signal-caller in 2017.
"Someone is interested," said Carroll, who declined to provide additional details about who was calling, according to Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune.
Looking back, Carroll said he regrets not signing Kaepernick, explaining Seattle didn't add Kaepernick because the Seahawks viewed him as a starting quarterback, and they already had one in Russell Wilson.
"Really simply put, we all held him in great regard as a player. We had coached against him in championship games and watched him go to the Super Bowl. He beat us and we beat him," Carroll said. "I think we knew Kap as well as anybody could have known a player. Just because of the depth of the competition we had against him."
Carroll then detailed the conversation he had with Kaepernick prior to his offseason visit, and added more context on the visit and what his impressions of Kaepernick were at the time.
"Kap called me, during the season before that offseason. He called out of the blue to ask me for some advice about where he would go next. I was flattered that he would even think to call me because we had never talked before other than greetings. From that point, I was kind of rooting for him and hoping that things would work out," Carroll said. "When it came back around and we had a chance to visit him and it came up, I was thinking, 'This is an incredible football player. Let's find out if it can possibly fit football-wise and all that.' And also because he hadn't visited anywhere yet, maybe this would help open up doors with him if our thing didn't work out. We had great meetings. I don't know that I've explained it in as much depth, but we spent half a day together. He spent time with our people throughout the building almost a full day. He was awesome.
"He just backed up even more of the play that we had seen and the character and his smarts and his togetherness and his competitiveness. To the point that it was so obvious that he's a starter in the NFL that I think I eventually wound up saying to you guys that he's a dominant figure as a football player and that's how we saw him. The fact that it didn't work out for us, I figured he'd wind up starting somewhere for sure and it just didn't happen. I regret that that didn't happen in some fashion. I wish we had contributed to it because the guy deserved to play."
Carroll added: "In our situation as a backup I didn't feel it was right at that time, I had to make that football decision, it was about our team and the situation. We had our starting quarterback and all of that. It wasn't going to be the open competitive situation that I like to think all of our spots are because Russ was such a dominant figure. ... When you look back, I felt like we missed the opportunity. So when I look back at it I wish we could have figured it out knowing what we know now and give him the chance because I would have loved to see him play football all those years."
The visit with Seattle was the closest Kaepernick came to signing with a team following the 2016 season. He's been out of the NFL since then, though recent efforts and a shift in general opinion on the fight to end police brutality and systemic racism has vaulted the quarterback's name back into the conversation. Sure, he hasn't played since 2016, but he was prescient in his protests and might still have something left in him on the football field.
Carroll's words at the very least indicate a minimum of one team is intrigued by the idea of bringing Kaepernick back to the NFL. Whether that leads to a signing remains to be seen.