Whitehead, 25, spent two seasons with the Cowboys after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2015. While listed as a wide receiver, Whitehead caught just nine passes and actually contributed more on offense with 20 rushing attempts for 189 yards. But his real value as a player comes from his ability as a return specialist.
He was the starting kick returner for the Cowboys for each of the past two seasons and took over punt returns duties from Cole Beasley midway through the 2015 season before handling punt returns full-time in 2016.
Whitehead’s release from the Cowboys appeared to have nothing to do with his play on the field. Dallas released him Monday, two days after veterans reported for training camp, after a roller coaster week that included the kidnapping of Whitehead’s dog and the issue of a warrant for the return specialist’s arrest.
In October, he finished a 24-16 loss to the Jets with no touchdowns, two interceptions, and 56.8 percent of his passes completed. Now imagine Flacco having a game like that in 2017 with Kaepernick standing on the sideline.
Harbaugh would have decisions to make, and he’d have to explain those decisions to the media.
There’s safety in the NFL when there’s no alternative. The Ravens committed huge amounts of money to Flacco in 2016 and want him to be their starter. As long as he’s healthy and ready to play, he’s the player the team wants under center.
Kaepernick’s chance at another go in the NFL may still be on the way, and it may even be with the Ravens. But as long as they have Flacco and Mallett ready for action, the team would evidently be more comfortable with camp arms like Olson.