The NFL is less than a week into its free agency period. The market for safeties as a whole has been slow.
Still, it is a little alarming that former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid remains unsigned. Reid was a big part of the social activism protests and was seen kneeling alongside Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Kaepernick still is unsigned despite being a free agent for more than a year, and it seems clear his social justice activism and kneeling during the anthem played a role in that. This offseason, Reid is unsigned almost a week after free agency started even though he’s one of the best safeties on the market.
Cornerback Richard Sherman did sign already, with the 49ers, and he has been outspoken about social issues. But he said that players have noticed that Reid remains unsigned.
“We are concerned, because he played at a high level for just about every year he’s played in this league,” Sherman said during his 49ers introductory news conference. “He has made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. He deserves his money. I would think he’s top-five, top-10 safeties in this league so he deserves to be paid accordingly. So there is concern there because you’d think a player of his caliber and his quality would be picked up by now.”
Sherman mentioned that good players are still being signed. Morgan Burnett, a good safety for years with the Green Bay Packers, just signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday. Reid waiting for a contract might just be part of the process.
“I’m praying he gets picked up,” Sherman said. “But if he doesn’t, I think there will be a conversation with the league office and the union on potential legal action.”
Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance last season through the union. Reid being unsigned, even for just a few days, is already causing angst. In response to a tweet last Thursday, Reid said the issue wasn’t general managers, but “It’s ownership.”
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
GMs aren’t the hold up broski. It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character. https://t.co/M9ULziZg5V
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) March 16, 2018
Reid acknowledged late last season that, like Kaepernick, his job prospects could be affected because of the protests. He told ESPN he was “completely fine with it.”
“The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs,” Reid told ESPN. “Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”
Not everyone would be fine with it if Reid remains unsigned well into the offseason. Perhaps it’s just the safety market being slow, and teams having other priorities in free agency. But the longer he remains on the market, the more other players will start to speak up about it.
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