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Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid end their collusion case against the NFL

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have reached a settlement with the league.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Panthers safety Eric Reid have withdrawn their collusion lawsuit against the NFL and have reached a settlement.

Mark Geragos, the lawyer representing Kaepernick and Reid in their cases, released the following joint statement with the NFL:

For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.

The NFL Players Association responded as well:

Kaepernick has been out of the league over the past two seasons. This all started in 2016 when Kaepernick and Reid decided to kneel together during the pregame national anthem as a way to protest systemic racial injustices.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers when head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over the team following the 2016 season. Reid remained with the team for the 2017 season, but the team didn’t renew his contract after the season. Kaepernick filed his collusion case against the NFL in November of 2017. Reid followed Kaepernick by filing his collusion case in May 2018.

Reid, a former Pro Bowl safety, was unable to sign with a team until the Carolina Panthers gave him a one-year contract three games into the 2018 season. Reid played well enough for the Panthers that they gave him a three-year deal.

Even with Reid’s three-year deal in Carolina — which he signed while his collusion lawsuit was still active — Reid was pessimistic that Kaepernick would ever be able to sign a deal.

Why did the NFL agree to settle with Kaepernick and Reid?

The NFL likely agreed to settle with Kaepernick and Reid because there was probably enough evidence for the league to look bad in court. Emails and other forms of communication between owners could have been made public if the case had proceeded. That won’t be happening now that the settlement has been announced.

Collusion is extremely hard to prove. Here’s what the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement says about proving the act of collusion:

The complaining party shall bear the burden of demonstrating by a clear preponderance of the evidence that (1) the challenged conduct was or is in violation of Section 1 of this Article (No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making) and (2) caused any economic injury to such player(s).

The settlement doesn’t definitively mean that Kaepernick and Reid were able to prove collusion, nor does it mean that the NFL was able to completely disprove Kaepernick’s and Reid’s claims.

This gives Kaepernick and Reid the chance to recover on lost wages during their unemployment. Kaepernick should get a large sum of money as the result of his prolonged unemployment.

According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, NFL officials are guessing that Kaepernick got at least $60 million. The Wall Street Journal reported it was much less — around $10 million:

However, the confidentiality agreement means we don’t know the official number.

What’s next for Kaepernick and Reid?

Even with the collusion case settled, Kaepernick likely won’t be playing in the NFL. He’s been waiting for an opportunity for two years now — and he was good enough to play when he and the 49ers split. If it hasn’t happened yet, it won’t be happening anytime soon.

Kaepernick’s activism won’t stop now that the settlement has been completed. He continued to donate his money to causes that he supported even while he was unemployed.

Reid will continue playing with the Panthers. His settlement with the NFL doesn’t change his contractual status with his new team. Now he has the opportunity to put this behind him and focus on being one of the better safeties in the game. Reid continued to kneel all throughout the season with the Panthers — former Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers said Reid’s actions were not a distraction to the team in anyway.

One interesting aspect to keep note of next season will be the issue surrounding Eric Reid and the abnormal amount of “random” drug tests that he was given after joining the Panthers.

Reid received seven drug tests in his first 11 weeks of being with the Panthers.

The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement after the season saying that they did not find any wrongdoing revolving around the amount of tests that Reid was given. Although this is speculation, it’s possible the league said that Reid pursue grievances about the drug tests as part of the settlement.

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid may have settled their collusion case, but the impact of their lawsuit — and the work that they’re doing in the communities — will be long lasting.