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Colin Kaepernick is unemployed because he’s channeling Donald Trump.

The NFL isn’t blackballing him. Don’t even go there.

Before I get to what I mean about Kaepernick and Trump, let me address this supposed black ball. Some members of the media would have you believe all 32 NFL franchises are whispering to each other not to sign Kaepernick because he didn’t stand for the National Anthem.

Seems highly unlikely.

If the anthem were the issue, Eric Reid and Eli Harold would be unemployed along with Kaepernick because they knelt next to him. That’s the first proof he’s not being blackballed.

The second proof I’ll phrase as a question. Why would 32 teams care about Kaepernick when only five have needed starting quarterbacks this offseason? Why would the Packers care if Kaepernick is in the NFL? They have Aaron Rodgers. Why would the Patriots care? They have Tom Brady.

The only teams that needed starting QBs were the Bears, Texans, Browns, Jets and 49ers, and three of those teams drafted projected starters: The Bears took Mitchell Trubisky, the Texans took Deshaun Watson and the Browns took DeShone Kizer.

The 49ers didn’t draft a starter, but they signed Brian Hoyer, a pocket passer who fits their new West Coast Offense better than Kaepernick.

That leaves the Jets. They signed Josh McCown, a 37-year-old stopgap starter who may not be as good as Kaepernick. If any team blackballed Kaepernick, it’s the Jets. Their owner, Woody Johnson, is extremely conservative politically, is our current ambassador to the UK and may have been offended by Kaepernick’s protest and his socks which depicted police officers as pigs.

The Jets coaches may not have wanted Kaepernick, either. They might have been reticent to sign a quarterback whose past social actions and political stances would bring the attention of the vast New York media, and not just the sports writers.

The Jets are only one team, though. The reality is Kaepernick didn’t have many opportunities to sign as a starter.

If he wants to be backup, that would be a different story. But he doesn’t want to be a backup, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano: “Two people to whom I spoke last week say he’s looking for a place that offers him a chance to compete for a starting job and a salary befitting a high-end backup quarterback or a low-end starter. Think something like $9 million to $10 million.”

Kaepernick refuted part of this report in a text message to former NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe, who revealed Kaepernick’s message on television. “[Kaepernick] says, ‘People keep putting out that I’m asking for nine, ten million dollars. Shannon, they don’t know what I’m asking for. I have not talked to, my representative has not talked to [teams].”

Two things are important about Kaepernick’s text. One, he didn’t deny he wants to be a starter. That’s key. Two, he said he and his agent haven’t talked to teams.

Since Kaepernick wrote this text, the Seahawks have reached out to him to gauge his interest in signing as a backup. That’s the only team he has talked to. He and his agent have not initiated talks with anyone.

Why are they being passive? What do they get out of being passive?

One word. Leverage.

Right now, Kaepernick has none. Each team just finished stockpiling its roster during free agency and the draft with the best available talent and is happy with the players it has. Teams will maintain their leverage until one team’s chosen quarterback gets hurt or doesn’t perform. Then, that team will lose leverage.

Kaepernick is waiting for that time.

This is where Trump comes in. To borrow the title of Trump’s famous book, this is the art of the deal.

Where is Kaepernick’s leverage if he initiates contact with clubs and tells them how much money wants? That would only lower his market price. He would seem desperate and teams would negotiate him down or turn him down altogether. You never want to be the first party to put a number on the table in a salary negotiation.

Look at this situation from Kaepernick’s perspective. Football is a business and he’s a commodity. He can’t risk devaluing himself by being rejected by a club. That rejection would devalue him even more to the 31 other clubs. When one person says no, others lower their offer.

Kaepernick is waiting to be wanted.

Until then, he needs to stay in shape and say nothing to the media, except to refute reports about how much money he wants, which is exactly what he did with Dan Graziano. Kaepernick can’t let sports writers set his market value for him.

Give Kaepernick and his agent credit. So far, they have handled this offseason perfectly. When a starting quarterback gets injured and a team becomes desperate, that desperate team probably will sign Kaepernick out of desperation. And he probably will get the starting job he’s been looking for.

This is about patience and economics. It has nothing to do with politics.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.