The league will find out how long that remains the case, and whether Kaepernick’s status will remain background noise or erupt into an encompassing topic.

Kaepernick’s continued unemployment has not blotted out the league’s on-field product. But it lingers as a simmering discussion that boils each time a quarterback struggles or suffers an injury. Kaepernick has not dominated NFL conversation, but he has hovered in the background, ever-present.

Edwards warned Goodell that Kaepernick would become a “martyr” if he was not signed. He argued, convincingly, Kaepernick should be a model: Rather than only protest, Kaepernick has donated nearly $2 million to youth, education and community programs.

“That’s where it all starts: It’s about the big uglies,” Smoot said in a telephone interview. “Jonathan Allen showed he can be dominant at times; we have to have somebody else dominate.”

Smoot’s choice of defensive linemen — N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb, recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defender — is likely out of the Redskins’ reach at 13th. But Clemson and Alabama have schooled appealing defensive linemen, too. Free agency is also an option.

“I always had my better years when the quarterback was throwing off his back foot and making mistakes because of the big boys up front,” Smoot said. “So that’s where I spend my money.”

“We have 13 more regular-season games,” he said. “We could win them all. We could lose them all.”

This Vikings team is different. Sure, fortune was on Minnesota’s side last week. I can dig that, but that last-second touchdown pass still required a high degree of skill, namely from Case Keenum, who threw the ball right where it needed to be. The matchup between Minnesota’s “plucky” QB, as my editor calls him, and the Eagles’ pass defense will decide Sunday’s affair in Philly. Doug Pederson’s team might be playing with house money at this point, too, as no one expected the Eagles to get this far with Nick Foles playing in Carson Wentz’s place.

Philly’s front seven has had much to do with this team’s survival. Fletcher Cox’s ability to blow up the middle of the line is so important, because no quarterback likes pressure in his face, repeatedly. The Saints brought much of that duress to Keenum in the second half last week, allowing them to crawl back in the game. jaguars_091