Typically, the bigger the name, the more attention and action when it comes to NFL offseason player-based futures markets.
Props based on who will lead the league in passing, rushing or receiving yards are usually replete with stars to plunk money down on. So, too, are “Next Team” wagers for notable free agents. For example, the most prominent quarterback remaining on the open market, Cam Newton, is the subject of the one available bet in this category on DraftKings Sportsbook at present.
But given current events, there’s arguably no unsigned player with a more visible profile at the moment than Colin Kaepernick.
Out of the NFL since the 2016 campaign – a season in which he gained no shortage of notoriety for kneeling in protest during the National Anthem prior to each game – the now 32-year-old’s return to the league appears likelier than at any point since, in the immediate wake of worldwide protests against police brutality.
Regulations, not politics, stand in the way of Kaepernick wagers
The ingredients – polarizing name, increasingly reasonable chances of either possible outcome unfolding, intriguing back story – are undeniably there for a prop bet based on the possibility of a Kaepernick signing before or during the 2020 season.
Yet there will not be an opportunity to get action on it at US-based legal sportsbooks. And, that has nothing to do with the player — but everything to do with regulations.
“Anything involving players typically needs to be approved on a case-by-case basis and is limited to players currently in the league (and therefore covered by the NFL’s integrity agreement and anti-gambling policy),” Patrick Eichner, Director of Communications for PointsBet Sportsbook explains.
Eichner adds that receiver Josh Gordon – who has been on indefinite suspension from the NFL since last December for repeated violations of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and substance abuse – is another example of a player who can’t be considered a viable option for such a wager based on the letter of the law.
Conditions exist for potentially popular prop
If legally feasible, a Kaepernick-based prop would be poised to generate a solid amount of cumulative handle across multiple sportsbooks.
Save for the brief time surrounding an infamous workout the NFL seemed to hurriedly throw together for the former 49er last November, Kaepernick’s mainstream profile had been much more modest over the last 12 months than in prior years.
That all changed in the immediate aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police May 25.
To begin with, subsequent protests have naturally thrust the issue of police brutality that Kaepernick stated as his reason for kneeling firmly back into the spotlight. Additionally, many of those speaking out in the name of justice have brought Kaepernick’s image and message back to the forefront in the very public demonstrations.
The NFL has been among countless corporate entities that have expressed renewed support for combating racism and police brutality in recent days. A personalized video message from commissioner Roger Goodell in which he apologized for the league “not listening to players earlier” and encouraging them to peacefully protest going forward may hint at a potential olive branch/vague tacit approval for a Kaepernick return.
Naturally, any bet on Kaepernick getting signed would have still carried a fair amount of risk. Irrespective of Goodell’s feelings on the matter, the decision to bring him aboard would have been in the hands of an individual owner, presumably in conjunction with his general manager and head coach.
Nevertheless, what would have essentially seemed like a non-starter as a bet most of the last three-plus years now has the air of a more wagerable situation – just not one US gamblers can act on.