Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent, leading many people to wonder if the NFL is black-balling the quarterback-turned-activist lightning rod.

Nate Boyer, however, does not think that is the case.

“I think it’s more a matter of where they see him fitting into their system at this point and whether he’s willing to take a massive pay cut,” the former NFL long-snapper and United States Army Green Beret said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He was getting, I think, like $14 million a year. It was a lot. (He’s) a backup quarterback at this point. I don’t think he’s ready to be a starter – or at least the league doesn’t believe that as a whole talent-wise. I think that’s a heavy price to pay for a backup, so I think that’s more the issue now than the protest itself.”

Boyer met with Kaepernick last September to discuss the quarterback’s protest. In fact, Boyer convinced Kaepernick to kneel – not sit – during the national anthem. Boyer felt kneeling was the perfect balance of protest and respect and, at the time, said Kapernick was “very receptive” to suggestions on how best to convey his message.

Kaepernick, 29, said he does not plan to protest during the 2017 season.

“He said he’s going to stand for the anthem,” Boyer said. “He’s going to do that for this season. That’s what he has come out and said publicly. I don’t know if that’s whether he really does believe that he’s seen the changes he wants to see, or if it’s just a matter of he knows that people may view that as a distraction.”

Whether Kaepernick will be signed before the season remains to be seen, but it’s important to remember it’s still March.

“I think at this point, first of all, it’s early,” Boyer said. “A lot of these things take shape through OTAs, through minicamp, a lot of people get injured – we’ve got a long way to go here. But also, if he’s willing to take a pretty massive pay cut and understand that he’s going to have to start as a backup and earn his way into that lineup, I think there’s a possibility that he’ll play. I don’t think he’s black-balled at all. I don’t believe that. We’ve seen teams and organizations take players with much more, I’d say, divisive histories and backgrounds when it comes to hitting women and drug use and all kinds of stuff like that. So I don’t think that’s necessarily the main reason. That’s what I believe. I could be wrong. There’s going to be a lot of debate surrounding that for sure. But at least from the guys that I know and the organizations I’m familiar with, I just don’t think that’s a huge issue.

“The 49ers last year, they really embraced that,” Boyer continued. “Coach Kelly, he was awesome about the whole situation throughout. He was just like, ‘Look, he’s become a leader in a lot of ways on our team. Guys are looking up to him like they didn’t before because he took a stance and he’s committing to it.’ It wasn’t a team distraction internally. Those guys kind of rallied around him even though they didn’t have a good season. I think we’ll have to see, but I think it’s just way too early to make that call.”

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