Carroll says Kaepernick a starter, just not with Seahawks

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick warms up before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears. Spike Lee said on Instagram Sunday, March 19, 2017, that it was "fishy" that Kaepernick, now a free agent, hadn't been signed." (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll saw Colin Kaepernick’s rise as a starting quarterback firsthand and the Seattle Seahawks coach still believes Kaepernick is capable of being a starter.

It just won’t be in Seattle

Carroll had high praise for Kaepernick on Friday as the Seahawks wrapped up their first week of OTAs. The former 49ers quarterback was in Seattle last week to meet with the front office but left still unemployed.

While Seattle has seemed the most logical destination — from its style of offense to the outspokenness of its locker room — Kaepernick won’t be signing with the Seahawks at this time.

“Colin has been a fantastic football player and he’s going to continue to be. At this time, we didn’t do anything with it, but we know where he is and who he is, and we had a chance to understand him much more so,” Carrol said. “He’s a starter in this league. We have a starter, but he’s a starter in this league and I can’t imagine that somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”

Carroll wasn’t willing to speculate why Kaepernick remains unsigned after opting out of his contract in San Francisco and becoming a free agent.

“That’s not my issue, I don’t know,” Carroll said. “We brought him in here to check him out, and I think it was very productive for us to get to know him better. I had never really sat down and talked to the guy.”

With Kaepernick, Seattle would have been getting a QB with baggage. Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem all last season to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities, drawing criticism and acclaim alike. He has indicated he plans to stand for the anthem this upcoming season should he find a job.

Meantime, Seattle has been seeking a backup. Trevone Boykin was the backup to Russell Wilson last season, but it was a risky move as Wilson battled through ankle and knee injuries during the regular season and Boykin ran into off-field troubles in the offseason.

Carroll said the door on Kaepernick is not closed. “The doors are always open to opportunities,” he said. “We’re just going to try to do the best we can for our guys whenever the opportunity presents itself and we’ll see.”

Carroll also addressed a tumultuous offseason that’s been largely centered on cornerback Richard Sherman. The Seahawks openly talked ahead of April’s draft about possibly trading the former All-Pro cornerback, but a suitable deal never materialized.

That was followed by recent stories of a locker room divide largely driven by Sherman’s struggles in getting past the Super Bowl loss to New England in 2015 when Wilson was intercepted in the end zone in the final minute.

But Sherman has been an active participant throughout Seattle’s offseason program and Carroll downplayed any locker room strife.

“Sometimes there are setbacks and challenges, and as a matter of fact, if you don’t count on that, you don’t understand. So we’re in great shape,” Carroll said. “This locker room is in great shape, this group is fired up, they’re working hard every day. Everybody is pulling for one another. Whatever you guys think might be otherwise, it isn’t.”

NOTES: Carroll seem particularly pleased with FS Earl Thomas’ progress in his recovery from a broken leg suffered last season. Thomas has been participating in OTAs along with a number of others recovering from injuries or surgeries, including SS Kam Chancellor (ankle), RB Eddie Lacy and G Luke Joeckel. “The guys we thought might be more slowed up at this time are out there and able to get some work that they’re feeling some continuity,” Carroll said. … Lacy said he had no problem with financial bonuses in his contract tied to his weight at certain points of the offseason. Lacy met his first checkpoint weight last month. “As a competitor you want to be challenged,” Lacy said.

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