NFL deposes Colin Kaepernick in grievance battle

Charles Robinson
NFL columnist

After weeks of sitting for depositions in the Colin Kaepernick collusion complaint, the NFL’s powerbrokers will finally get some of their own questions answered as the league’s lawyers are set to depose the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback on Tuesday in New York.

It’s the first witness the NFL has deposed in Kaepernick’s complaint, marking a significant moment in the proceedings. It’s unknown what information the league will be seeking, although a league source familiar with the complaint said the NFL is likely to concentrate on Kaepernick’s mental outlook once he entered free agency in March of 2017, and whether he corrupted his free-agent market through a series of factors relating to football skills, contract expectations and motivation to play.

Colin Kaepernick’s grievance against the NFL could extend into 2019. (AP)

Among the inquiries that are believed to be on the agenda for NFL lawyers in some form or fashion:

• Whether Kaepernick expected to be signed as a starter once he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

• What salary demands he or his representation had in mind early in free agency.

• Whether Kaepernick’s capacity to play diminished due to past injuries.

• How Kaepernick related to coaches or teammates while playing for the 49ers.

• Whether Kaepernick expressed a willingness to continue his professional football career anywhere outside of the NFL.

• Perhaps most pressing (and obvious), whether Kaepernick has ever discovered or been presented with tangible proof that NFL teams or executives sought to eliminate him from playing in the league again.

The deposition is expected to last several hours, and could dive into instances where Kaepernick appeared to make negative proclamations about law enforcement on social media or during practices, such as his wearing of the now infamous pigs in police hats socks during training camp in 2016. Essentially, the league’s lawyers are expected to walk Kaepernick down a path suggesting how he (and not NFL employees or owners) tangibly tainted his value across the league as a quarterback and/or teammate.

While his appearance before the league’s lawyers is a significant marker in the collusion case, a source familiar with the proceedings said it doesn’t signal that an end is near. Indeed, a multitude of league executives, owners and team personnel remain on a deposition list that could stretch far into the summer or beyond, making it conceivable that the collusion complaint could drag into 2019.

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