Ravens deny owner blocking team from signing QB Kaepernick

AFP
ESPN reports that Ravens coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome support signing QB Colin Kaepernick but cites sources saying that owner Steve Bisciotti has resisted the idea.
AFP
AFP

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, in this December 31, 2016, photo.

Baltimore Ravens officials on Wednesday denied a report that owner Steve Bisciotti was blocking the signing of quarterback Colin Kaepernick over fears of a backlash from supporters.

But the team also admitted it is speaking with sponsors, advertisers and former players as it weighs the decision to possibly sign the controversial free agent.

Kaepernick became a flashpoint last season when he kneeled during the pre-game playing of the US national anthem in a bid to draw attention to civil rights issues, a move that followed several controversial shooting of African-American men by white police officers across the nation.

ESPN reported that Ravens coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome supported signing of Kaepernick but cited sources saying Bisciotti has resisted the idea.

"We are going through a process and we have not made a decision," Newsome said in a statement in response to the ESPN report.

"Steve Bisciotti has not told us we cannot sign Colin Kaepernick, nor has he blocked the move. Whoever is making those claims is wrong."

The report said the Ravens were not the first National Football League team that wanted to sign Kaepernick but had the move blocked by a team owner.

Bisciotti said on Sunday the Ravens were still weighing a decision on Kaepernick, whose arrival would be helpful with Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco sidelined for at least a week of training camp with a back injury.

"I hope we do what is best for the team and balance it with what's best for our fans," Bisciotti said, telling supporters at a fan forum, "Your opinions matter to us."

"We're very sensitive to it and we're monitoring it, and we're trying to figure out what's the right tact."

Team president Dick Cass confirmed the Ravens are reaching out to former players, major sponsors and advertisers to see what reaction might be if they sign Kaepernick.

The Ravens signed journeyman quarterback Josh Woodrum as a third-string quarterback. Ryan Mallett and Dustin Vaughan are filling in until Flacco returns, but Mallett struggled with the first-team offensive unit, tossing at least five interceptions in one workout.

"I do not have an update on Colin Kaepernick," Harbaugh said on Wednesday. "I'll frame that this way — there are other positions that we're looking at too and I don't have any updates on those either. I think they're all in the same category."

Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers on March 3, threw for 2,241 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while fumbling a career-worst seven times last season. He also ran for 468 yards and two TDs.

In six NFL seasons, Kaepernick has passed for 12,271 yards with 72 TDs and 30 interceptions while running for 2,300 yards and 13 TDs.

Kaepernick, 1-10 as a starter last season with the 49ers, has a 32-32 career record and led San Francisco to the 2013 Super Bowl, which, incidentally, the 49ers lost to the Ravens.

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