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Joe Thomas: NFL teams view Colin Kaepernick as unworthy distraction

The Cleveland Browns have been silent in the three weeks since Colin Kaepernick became a free agent a year after they were reportedly willing to make a trade for the controversial veteran quarterback.

Joe Thomas, the Browns' Pro Bowl left tackle and part-time Twitter analyst, has offered a possible reason, saying NFL teams no longer look at Kaepernick as an elite QB, and his political stance of taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 was too much for a player who was neither a starter nor a star.

Kaepernick has drawn almost no interest from NFL teams even though he quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl and had 16 touchdowns to four interceptions last season.

For his part, when Browns coach Hue Jackson coached the Raiders, he said he wanted to draft Kaepernick "in the worst way" in 2011.

Kaepernick has not been a part of any quarterback discussion with the Browns, however, Jackson told NFL Network.

ProFootballTalk.com reported a year ago that the Browns were willing to trade for Kaepernick but the deal fell apart when he would not reduce his salary from $12 million. PFT reported that the Browns were willing to give up a third-round pick and pay Kaepernick in the range of $7 million to $8 million.

But this year, it's been crickets -- and the Browns have serious question marks at quarterback.

Kaepernick, who said he will stand going forward after sitting or kneeling for the anthem throughout last season, has not played at an elite level since his Super Bowl season. His career completion percentage is 59.8, his QB rating is 88.9 and his Total QBR is 64.9. Those rankings are in the middle of the pack among NFL quarterbacks since he's been in the league.

He also has been sacked 171 times, 14th-highest in his NFL years, and his career rating is one spot ahead of Robert Griffin III, whom the Browns gave a chance in 2016 and released this spring.

Thomas indicated that teams do not feel Kaepernick's ability overshadows the "distractions" caused by his national anthem stance, but also said distractions are "highly overrated."

Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with the 49ers in early March to become an unrestricted free agent, has said he was pleased with the conversation spurred by his stance last season.

He has also made recent headlines after donating $50,000 to Meals on Wheels and another $50,000 to feed starving people in Somalia.

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