The deal is for one year and worth up to $1.9 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
It was a long time coming. Reid is notable for his hard-hitting play and for being shuffled around the 49ers’ depth chart to accommodate injuries and a better-than average group of safeties.
Still, whether it was at free safety, strong safety, or even outside linebacker, Reid was regarded as a good player, though he was mostly ignored during the 2018 offseason. At the beginning of May, Reid followed Colin Kaepernick’s lead and filed a grievance through the NFLPA, accusing NFL owners of colluding to avoid giving him a contract.
What about Reid’s involvement in protests?
Reid was also an early supporter of the movement started by Kaepernick in which players sat or knelt during the playing of the national anthem to protest systemic racism in the United States.
Reid has stated in the past he wasn’t sure if teams would stay away from him as a result of his demonstrations, but that he didn’t regret doing them. At the beginning of free agency, Reid made it clear he thought his involvement in the protests was preventing him from getting a fair shake from NFL owners:
The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) March 15, 2018
Reid met with the Bengals in early April, where owner Mike Brown explained he intended on prohibiting protests during the anthem. While Reid has previously said he wouldn’t kneel if signed, he didn’t make a commitment to the Bengals on that particular subject. It was also reportedly met with pause by head coach Marvin Lewis.
About a month later, Reid filed his grievance. That case is still pending:
Per source, the Panthers signing of Eric Reid does not impact his collusion grievance. There was no settlement as part of his deal with Carolina.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 27, 2018
Luckily for Reid, the Panthers recognized his skills and what he can bring the team — and they weren’t the only ones. The 49ers were also interested in bringing Reid back, but he decided to join the Panthers instead.
Earlier this month, owner David Tepper also voiced his support for players’ right to protest.
“To say that [they aren’t patriotic] makes me so aggravated and angry,” Tepper told CNBC’s Scott Wapner. “It’s just wrong, it’s dead wrong.”
It’s unclear if Reid will continue to demonstrate during the national anthem:
I’m told the Panthers did NOT ask Eric Reid whether he would continue demonstrating. The signing was strictly a “football decision”. They believe he’s a good football player who can help them win.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) September 27, 2018
Kaepernick, his brother in protest in San Francisco, took to Instagram to congratulate his former teammate on his new job.
View this post on Instagram
Congratulations to my brother @e_reid35, an all pro safety who should have been signed the first day of free agency, who has signed a football contract. He has was the FIRST person to kneel alongside me. Eric is a social justice warrior, continues to support his wife, two beautiful daughters and communities in need.
What is Carolina getting in Reid?
Reid, 26, was a 2013 first-round pick by the 49ers. In 70 career games, he has 319 tackles, two forced fumbles, 10 interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and 34 passes defensed. He’s a strong defender in run support and has a nose for the ball.
Although he’s versatile, his best position is strong safety. That’s where he started and where he should never have been moved from by the 49ers, though he was far from bad at free safety or even his brief stint at linebacker. Reid said he switched positions last year after the 49ers released NaVorro Bowman halfway through the season:
Your assumption is false. After Navorro went to the Raiders, there was a LB shortage and I was asked to pick up the slack. No training camp to practice, but in the middle of my contract year because the team needed it. Get your facts straight brother https://t.co/bfC3CR55bx— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) March 16, 2018
The Panthers have serious depth issues at safety after putting Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve with a concussion. General manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera settled on Reid being the best option to replace him.
Earlier in the week, Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith told ESPN that he hoped the team would sign Reid.
“He’s one of the best men I’ve been around, so I hope that is something that can happen for us because I know that with the injuries we have, he’s a guy that can help this team,” Smith said.
”I really hope he gets a shot. He deserves it, and it’s not right what’s happened to him.’’
Are there any concerns with Reid?
Reid has a history of injuries and most concerning, concussions. That includes a severe concussion in 2014 that was his third in the NFL, with the first two coming in the first nine games of his rookie season.
When he returned from that particular concussion, Reid’s play was iffy and some thought he was playing “safe.” Since then, though, he’s played at a high level, but has missed nine games over the past two season due to arm and knee injuries.