"When you look back, I felt like we missed the opportunity," Carroll told reporters. "I wish we could have figured it out, knowing what we know now, and give him the chance, because I would love to see him play football all those years."
During Thursday's video conference call, Carroll also denied that a second meeting with Kaepernick was canceled in 2018 due to the Seahawks' uncertainty about whether the quarterback planned to continue kneeling during the national anthem.
Kaepernick first visited with the Seahawks in the spring of 2017 after opting out of his contract with the 49ers. Carroll cited current starting quarterback Russell Wilson as the reason the franchise opted against signing Kaepernick.
"There's been stuff in the media that because we were concerned about him taking a knee or whatever. That never came up in our conversations," Carroll said. "That was never an issue for us and wasn't true. But in that regard, things didn't work out and we moved on. ... He was a dominant figure as a football player, and that's how we saw him.
"The fact that it didn't work out, I figured he was going to wind up starting somewhere for sure, and it just didn't happen. ... We had our starting quarterback, and it wasn't going to be the open competitive situation that I'd like to think all of our spots are because Russell is such a dominant figure. That's what happened."
Carroll later was asked about the possibility of the Seahawks signing Kaepernick now and giving him a platform to discuss racial issues amid protests across the United States following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. Kaepernick hasn't played a snap in the league since 2017.
"We're kind of set up right now, so football-wise, it doesn't seem to fit us like I said," Carroll said. "But there's a lot of time here. We'll see what happens."
Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement and condemned racism, admitting the league was "wrong" for not listening to its players earlier about racial injustice. The video was in response to a dozen NFL players and appeared to acknowledge Kaepernick's peaceful protests years ago.
The video by Goodell represented a significant turnaround for the league that created -- but never implemented -- a policy that allowed players to remain in the locker room to protest, but insisted they stand for the national anthem if they were on the field.
Carroll said it's clear now that Kaepernick's protests during the anthem were "right on point."
"He was right on it," Carroll said. "He was right on the topics about police brutality and inequality, and he was right on the subject matter at the time. That's so obvious now, where maybe all of the flak that flew about not honoring the flag and all the other things that were not even a part of the demonstration or what his intent was at all.
"That just skewed the whole discussion. I don't think that's around now. It's different at this time frame."
The Seahawks recently re-signed veteran quarterback Geno Smith, who served as the backup to Wilson last season.