Whether you support what Colin Kaepernick has done off the field, or on the sidelines of a field, there is without a doubt quarterbacks that are on NFL rosters that he could easily replace. Before he was forced to have offseason surgery before the 2016 season, Kaepernick was an established starter in the league who proved that with a good defence and some playmakers that he could lead a team deep into the playoffs. When he did finally play last year, after Blaine Gabbert proved he shouldn't be in the league, Kaepernick proved to be a viable starter, throwing for 16 touchdowns compared to 4 interceptions for the 49ers who were an absolute debacle a year ago.
With that being said, we all know Kaepernick is not in the league right now, despite many showings from terrible starting quarterbacks this season. This list will be highlighting those players who have started an NFL game that have played horribly this season, teams that may have a better record if Kaepernick was starting for them, as well as backups who were put in a position to start due to injury. The last part is crucially important because as we saw last year with Derek Carr breaking his leg, a team’s playoff success could hinge on the skill of a backup quarterback.
15 Scott Tolzien
The Colts ownership and front office have proved to be a train wreck over the last few years, and this summer was no different. Jim Irsay spoke out against the free agent quarterback, and said they were not interested in him all off-season, while he knew Andrew Luck would not be able to play the first few weeks of the year. Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard elected to not do anything over the off-season, and let two terrible options at QB battle it out over the preseason. Scott Tolzien beat out Stephen Morris, and then Tolzien was beat up before losing the job. The Colts were supposed to compete for the AFC South crown this year, but with inadequate play from the most important position, it will be unlikely even after Andrew Luck returns.
14 Jay Cutler
Is there a single backup quarterback in the league that should feel more angry about his current situation than Matt Moore? He started a game in the playoffs last season with the team, knows the offence, and got absolutely destroyed by Bud Dupree during the playoffs just to get back up and continue playing. Now Jay Cutler gets the call to start, instead of either Moore or Kaepernick. Cutler looks like he could care less when he is playing on Sundays, and it is costing the team. Cutler doesn't have the accuracy to deal the ball to weapons the Dolphins have, and the team is not good enough to just need a game manager, something Cutler couldn't do anyway due to his high amount of turnovers. The Dolphins would have been better off signing Kaepernick after the injury news to Ryan Tannehill, but also would have been better off using their own backup instead.
13 Joe Flacco
Baltimore’s passing offense has been terrible this offseason, but due to their defense winning them games, no one is really talking about how Flacco has played this season. Flacco is abusing the checkdown passes to an alarming rate. His yards per attempt is the third worst in the league, with supposedly big play options Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace not doing much this season. Flacco just cant move the ball down the field quickly, and the Ravens offence has no punch other than a checkdown or screen breaking for a big gain. Flacco just has not been good, and the Ravens offence could easily use better play from this position. The Ravens simply are not getting the type of production they want from their franchise QB, but aren't left with many options to go along with his massive contract.
12 Deshone Kizer
The Browns are showing once again this year that they have a rare amount of incompetence that is well known. Instead of opting for Deshaun Watson in the NFL draft, the Browns traded the 12th pick Houston used on the national champion, and drafted Kizer in the 3rd round. Kizer has been unimpressive to start the season, so much so that he will be watching games from the bench for the foreseeable future. In his first five games, Kizer has only thrown for a touchdown three times, as the Browns offence is absolutely stagnant with him behind centre. The Browns offence has had little success in the passing game, with Kizer only throwing for more than 200 yards twice. The Browns are one of the teams that would obviously benefit from better play from the quarterback position.
11 Matt Cassell
At this point, I am convinced that Matt Cassel will forever be on an NFL roster. His one impressive season with the Patriots has lead to a long career as a back up. With Marcus Mariota, a mobile quarterback who has accuracy issues, going down with an injury, Cassel was called into action this season. Titans fans should feel cheated that Cassel has to start games for them, especially with the AFC south being such a mess. The Titans could have easily avoided this situation by signing a certain mobile QB, and if Cassel has to start many games for Mariota, Tennessee could miss the playoffs in a division that is clearly up for grabs. The Titans should bet on the safe side and pick up Kaepernick.
10 Jacoby Brissett
So instead of signing a QB that knows how to win with good pieces around him, the Colts instead traded a former first round pick for a third string player. This was not to add depth, this was so that Brissett could come in as a starter. Brissett has give the Colts a whole new dimension to the offence this season, and plays his heart out, but he just isn't the type of guy who will win games the Colts aren’t favoured in. This trade just shows how badly the Colts were run by Ryan Grigson as the player traded, Phillip Dorsett, was taken over safety Landon Collins, a positional need at a time where Indy was loaded at wide receiver. The Colts could have had Landon Collins and Colin Kaepernick on the roster in 2017, but instead just have Jacoby Brissett, and more losses than they should.
9 Kevin Hogan
Speaking of the Browns needing better quarterback play, instead of bringing in someone who is a free agent, Kevin Hogan started a game for the Browns this past weekend. Hogan is most notable for his time at Stanford, where he lead the team to three Rose Bowl appearances. Since he has been in the NFL, he has made a very minimal impact. He played a major role in one game last season, in which the Browns lost by 14 against the Bengals. The Browns could have had a better record this season, which they were looking to improve, if they had Kaepernick signed. Hogan disappointed in his only start for the Browns, who will be moving back to Kizer after a flip flop from week to week. The Browns claimed they benched Kizer because Hogan increased the chances of winning games, but neither of these QB's can compare to Kaepernick.
8 Case Keenum
After his performance last season with the Rams, who would have thought that Case Keenum would find his way to an NFL roster while someone who has lead a team to a SuperBowl appearance stays unsigned. Keenum has thrown for under 170 yards in half his starts this season through week five, and the offence has fallen off since Bradford lit up the Saints during week one. The Vikings offence may be in shambles now that Dalvin Cook will be missing the rest of the season, and Minnesota could use a punch offensively. The Vikings are a team that could vastly improve with superior quarterback play, and with Bradford's injury history, this seemed like a team that would entertain bringing someone better in to hold a clipboard and possibly make spot starts. Overall, it seems like due to Keenum’s lack of ability and Bradford’s history, the Vikings could have been a prime destination for Kaepernick.
7 Brian Hoyer
Now we know there was no chance that Kaepernick would remain in a 49er uniform after last season, but that doesn’t mean that Brian Hoyer is a capable starting quarterback. It is pretty remarkable that Hoyer is still able to bounce around and find a starting position every season though, as his play suggests that this shouldn't keep happening. Hoyer can not seem to capitalize on being in close games and pulling out a victory. Each of the first five weeks the 49ers have lost in heartbreaking fashion late in games, and this is due to Hoyer’s inability to close out games and be a leader for the team. There was no chance the 49ers were keeping the controversial quarterback after last season, but it is currently costing them games. Now, Hoyer will be seeing games from the sideline after being benched.
6 Mike Glennon
The Bears paid Mike Glennon so much money this off season, just to draft a QB very early in the draft and then claimed Glennon would be the starter. This was an obviously poor decision from the get go, and Glennon made the Bears pay for it with his play. Since week two, he has thrown five interceptions and has the third worst QBR in the league. If Chicago had not drafted Mitchell Trubisky, the Glennon signing and lack of interest in Kaepernick would be almost indefensible. What is not indefensible though if how much money Mike Glennon will be paid to watch a 23 year old take over his job, as Trubisky has taken over for the Bears. There is a chance this team could have been more successful this season with someone else at QB, as the Bears do have some weapons in the run game to make a functioning offence.
5 EJ Manuel
Did anyone know EJ Manuel was in the league before coming in late during week four after a Derek Carr injury? After four up and down seasons in Buffalo, Manuel now finds himself as the starter on a super bowl contending team. Those super bowl chances, and playoff chances for that matter, will take a giant hit if Carr does not return soon, and that is simply because of how inadequate their backup is. EJ Manuel should never be on the NFL roster of a team that expect to win games, and Oakland would have benefited going into the off season with someone better equipped to make a start due to injury. Derek Carr looked like he shouldn’t have been on the field in any capacity last Sunday, which is a testament to how the Raiders feel about their backup QB play to rush their franchise player.
4 Brett Hundley
One of the newest additions to the ever growing list of back ups who are being thrusted into starting roles, Hundley was less than impressive for the Packers. Hundley may not even be the worst or most inexperienced quarterback starting from here on out either. The Packers were not able to do anything against the stout Vikings defence, and with Ty Montgomery limited by his broken ribs, the Packers need a playmaker they currently do not have. The NFC North is wild right now, with three teams switching their QBs by week six. The Packers may miss out of the postseason if the strong play from other teams such as the Lions and Vikings hold up. It is unclear if a week of practice and preparation will help Hundley blossom into a competent signal caller, but it's obvious that the Packers should be worried about who will be running the offence for the first time in a long while.
3 Blake Bortles
The 2017 version of Bortles is one we have already seen many times. The Jags spend the whole game losing, and once the lead is just out of reach, Bortles comes alive and gets a garbage time 80 yard drive. With the defence playing the way it is, especially the way it played against the Steelers, the Jaguars should be running much more efficiently. The team simply will not win a game if their defence is not a juggernaut. In each of the three Jacksonville wins this season, the defence has given up less than ten points. Bortles' record is 14-37 overall, and he has not shown much potential to become elite. It is starting to look like Bortles is just another wasted draft pick, and another QB over the years who has not been able to turn Jacksonville around. It could be argued that signing Kaepernick (who is 32-32) is a better long term solution than continuing on with Bortles.
2 Tom Savage
This just goes to show how bad Bill O'Brien is as a coach. With Deshuan Watson being able to do whatever he wants to on a football field, it is alarming that Tom Savage was a week one starter in the NFL. There was no chance Savage was going to keep the job much longer than he did, and after O'Brien talked all preseason about how Savage was the guy this season, he went back on the decision just 30 minutes into the season. He did make the necessary switch, but when Savage was under centre, the Texans looked like a disaster. After this showing, Savage showed that he may not deserve to be in the league, as he is just another back up QB who will cost teams games if put into an expanded role. While Watson is looking very good, Kaepernick would be an asset in case the young QB gets hurt.
1 C.J. Beathard
The biggest unknown out of everyone on this list, Beathard made his first NFL appearance last weekend against the Redskins while Hoyer got benched. He is a rookie who was taken in the third round out of Iowa. At this point, it is comical the quality of QBs that are starting for teams, and Beathard is the biggest example of this. NFL executives do have the choice to not sign a player, but at what point does it actually hurt the team to be this stubborn? Beathard played well in relief for the San Francisco 49ers against the Redskins, so maybe he won't be the worst player on this list, but he is certainly the most inexperienced and unknown.