Rumor: NFL wants Colin Kaepernick signed after allowing team to break league rules Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick went the entire 2017 season without being signed by an NFL team. However, a rumor that emerged on Tuesday via NFL reporter Mike Freeman indicates that the league may be looking to change that in 2018, particularly in recompense for the Oakland Raiders potentially violating the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

The Rooney Rule dictates that all NFL teams must interview a minority-race candidate for open head coaching and senior football operations positions before they make an official hire. The current rumor is that the Oakland Raiders may have violated that policy when they hired new head coach Jon Gruden.

While just a rumor, Freeman indicates a potential hangup in the alleged “deal” could be an impact in Raiders ticket sales. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas starting in the 2019 season, and revenue from season ticket sales will be a top priority that season. Kaepernick’s impact on NFL business has been a contentious issue ever since he started his form of protest in the 2016 season.

While being unsigned, Kaepernick has continued to speak out on racial issues in the United States, which Kaepernick says was the reasoning for why he protested to begin with.

The NFL has become increasingly image conscious on the issue ever since President Trump made the remark that he would “fire” players that decided to demonstrate during the playing of the national anthem. The issue was amplified even more when John Schnatter, then CEO of Papa John’s, said that the demonstrations had affected profits for his company. Papa John’s is one of the NFL’s biggest advertising partners.

Schnatter has since stepped down from his position as CEO following the backlash of his comments.

Kaepernick is a former Nevada quarterback that was taken in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. After not playing for much of the 2011 season, Kaepernick eventually usurped the starting job from the injured Alex Smith in the 2012 season. Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl that year, where the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens.

Kaepernick was eventually released from his contract following the 2016 season.

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