Kaepernick, 32, has not played since the 2016 season, when as a member of the San Francisco 49ers he kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
In a conversation with Mike Greenberg for ESPN's The Return of Sports special, Goodell said it would be up to a team to signKaepernick and said he welcomes Kaepernick's voice on discussions of social issues.
"Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going to take a team to make that decision," Goodell said. "But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.
"If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities. We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody's welcome at that table and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for a long time.
"But I hope we're at a point now where everybody's committed to making long-term, sustainable change."
Earlier this month, Goodell released a video apologizing on behalf of the NFL for not doing a better job of listening to players' concerns on racial inequality. Afterward, he was criticized for not mentioning Kaepernick by name.
In Monday's interview, he praised Kaepernick and others for raising issues such as racism and injustice.
"What they were talking about and what they were protesting and what they were trying to bring attention to was playing out right in front of us -- and tragically," Goodell said of why the NFL chose to speak up. "And so all of us saw that, and it was difficult for all of us. And so that was an important point for all of us."
Goodell also addressed reports Monday that some players on the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys have tested positive for COVID-19, saying that the league expects positive tests.
"So positive tests are going to happen," Goodell said. "The issue is, can we obviously prevent as many of those from happening, but in addition, treat them quickly, isolate them and prevent them from directly impacting our player personnel.
"So none of those players were in the facilities. All of those players, fortunately, have had either mild symptoms or are asymptomatic."
Goodell would support Kaepernick's return to the NFL
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explains the different roles Colin Kaepernick could have in a potential return to the NFL.