FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots will send a representative to Colin Kaepernick’s NFL-arranged workout Saturday in Atlanta, a league source confirmed on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old quarterback has been without a team since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March 2017.
Kaepernick became a polarizing figure during the 2016 season after he began protesting police brutality and racial injustice by taking a knee on the sideline during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.’’
All 32 teams have been invited to the workout, and at least four others, the Dolphins, Lions, Cowboys, and Falcons, have confirmed they will attend. Kaepernick’s session should have an NFL Combine feel as it will include on-the-field work as well as an interview.
Videos of both will be available to all teams, regardless if they attend.
Last month Kaepernick’s representatives issued a statement saying they had heard “little to no response” from NFL teams regarding inquiries for their client.
According to an ESPN report, the league set up the workout in response to that statement and sent a memo to clubs informing them of the workout.
The report said the memo read:
“Earlier this year, we discussed some possible steps with [Kaepernick’s] representatives and they recently emphasized his level of preparation and that he is ready to work out for clubs and be interviewed by them. We have therefore arranged this opportunity for him to work out, and for all clubs to have the opportunity to evaluate his current readiness and level of interest in resuming his NFL career.’’
Kaepernick, who helped lead the 49ers to an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to the Ravens in February 2013, tweeted his excitement about the opportunity.
“I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait the see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday,’’ he wrote.
Though it’s unlikely any head coaches will be on hand as Saturday is both a preparation and/or travel day for most teams, Kaepernick should have a captive audience.
Kaepernick and his former San Francisco teammate, Eric Reid, filed grievances against the NFL through the Players Association, claiming collusion among owners to keep them unemployed. In February both players reached undisclosed settlements with the league. Reid is currently playing for the Panthers.
Kaepernick remains a popular figure and enjoys widespread support among players around the league. Several Patriots, including Duron Harmon, Ben Watson, and Devin McCourty, wished the quarterback well in his comeback on Wednesday.
“I’m just excited that he gets an opportunity — he’s been waiting for this opportunity for a long time,’’ said Harmon. “He’s a guy that a lot of people in this league pull for because he’s the first one that really put social injustice out there and on the map for the NFL. So, I’m rooting for him and I’m hoping the workout goes better than everyone expects and hopefully he gets another opportunity to play in the league.’’
McCourty said there’s no doubt “this guy can play on Sunday” and he hopes “people show up” for the workout.
“I think it’s awesome for him, a guy that’s been fighting to try to get back in the league,’’ said McCourty. “I think, from a player standpoint, a lot of guys have watched him play football and truly believe he deserves a shot to be in this league. I think it’s cool to see and I just hope something comes out of it . . . I hope he gets consideration for an actual job in the NFL because he played good football when he was out there.’’
Watson echoed similar thoughts.
“I’m all about anybody who wants to play and has the ability to, I’m all for them getting a chance to play,’’ said Watson. “I heard about the workout, I know he’s been working out, I know he’s been prepared for a long time, and hopefully he gets another chance to play because he deserves it.’’