When all is said and done, we will talk about Colin Kaepernick not just for his exploits on the field but also what happened off it. He certainly had a good career in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. He took them to a Super Bowl and was a sought-after quarterback during his time in the league.
However, his performances over the three years leading up to 2016 saw a decline, and the 49ers missed the playoffs. However, what caught the attention of most people in 2016 was when he decided not to stand for the National Anthem. He first sat and then knelt while the anthem was played. He did so to protest against racial inequality and police brutality against minorities.
Many believe this caused him to be blacklisted by the league as no one signed him after he was released in early 2017. Colin Kaepernick has not played in the league since. Given his performances with the San Francisco 49ers, he should have found a place as a starter or a backup somewhere, but it did not happen.
Kaepernick signed a rookie contract in 2011 before joining an improved deal in 2014. The latter of those contracts should have lasted through 2017 but he did not get the chance to play out his last year. During his time in the NFL, he earned around $25 million in salary and $1 million more in workout bonuses.
His earnings during that time caused him to build up the bulk of his fortune, which is currently around $20 million. However, since the 2016 season, he has not played professional football. His earnings have come through documentaries and appearing on endorsements for Nike.
How he was viewed changed dramatically after George Floyd's death. However, another place that allowed him to get some money was the settlement with the NFL.
How did the NFL settlement affect Colin Kaepernick's net worth of $20 million?
Colin Kaepernick was arguably too good not to get a contract in the NFL after 2016. The Seattle Seahawks, who trained with him but did not offer him a contract, were a case in point. Here's what head coach Pete Carroll said after OTAs in 2017:
"He's a starter in this league. And we have a starter. But he's a starter in this league, and I can't imagine that someone won't give him a chance to play."
But as it turns out, he never got a chance to play again. One can take an educated guess that the probable cause for that was his political beliefs.
Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, saying that team owners were colluding to keep him out of the league. He settled for a confidential amount in 2019. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, it was less than $10 million, with some of it also going towards lawyers' fees.
Hence, it would only have positively affected his net worth. But viewed in terms of the opportunities he has lost by not playing in the NFL, the settlement does not come close to doing him justice.
A starting quarterback in the league today can earn more than double that in one season, with elite players earning much more. This was also a one-time payment rather than a salary that one gets every season. Being out of the NFL has also decreased his visibility and chances of endorsements. Colin Kaepernick's stance has lost endorsements not just for him but those who supported him at the time, with Nike being the belated exception.
So, while he did get millions of dollars in the settlement, that came at a heavy price in lost opportunities. Colin Kaepernick ultimately chose to follow his conscience and accepted the costs that came with it.