Eric Reid Signs With Carolina Panthers, Back in NFL After Protesting During National Anthem

Eric Reid is getting another shot in the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on Sept. 12, 2016. (Credit: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on Sept. 12, 2016. (Credit: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

The Carolina Panthers on Thursday have signed the free agent safety to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Reid filed an official grievance letter with the NFL in October of 2017, alleging that team owners and the league colluded to prevent his employment due to his protest activities. Reid, along with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, participated in protests during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games to highlight social awareness and racial injustice.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said he wasn’t concerned about Reid’s past protests, telling The Associated Press it was a “football decision” — and one that was approved by new owner David Tepper.

“Every decision we make we communicate with” Tepper, Hurney said.

Tepper bought the team from Jerry Richardson this past summer.

“Everybody we sign we ask if he has the skill set and if he helps us win football games — and we feel the answer is yes,” Hurney said of Reid.

Kaepernick has offered congratulations on Twitter to his former teammate, saying Reid is a “social justice warrior (who) continues to support his family and communities in need.” He said Reid was the first person who knelt alongside him for the national anthem, which was done to highlight racial and social injustice.

Kaepernick added that Reid is an “all pro safety who should have been signed the 1st day of free agency.”

It’s unclear if Reid plans to continue his protests when he begins playing for the Panthers, though he said in March he doesn’t plan to protest during the national anthem this season.

The Panthers have a bye this week and next play at home on Oct. 7 against the New York Giants.

Reid is expected to start right away after the Panthers placed Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve last week.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Reid played the first five seasons of his NFL career with San Francisco after the 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.

“He’s a physical safety with good ball skills and he makes plays and he has experience,” Hurney said. “He’s a young player with skins on the wall. He has played at a very high level. He comes in and helps make our safety positon better.”

Reid earned Pro Bowl and All-Rookie honors in his first season after starting all 16 games for the 49ers and recording 92 tackles, four interceptions, 11 passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He started all three playoff games for the 49ers in 2013, helping the team to an NFC Championship game appearance.

Reid started 12 of 13 games played last season, registering 66 tackles, two interceptions, four passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He has started 69 of 70 regular season games played during his career, tallying 375 tackles, 10 interceptions, 34 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.