The first two days of NFL free agency have seen a lot of players cashing in on lucrative deals.
Eric Reid is not one of them.
The former San Francisco 49ers safety not only remains unsigned, there hasn’t been much buzz about teams showing an interest in the 26-year-old.
Is there a connection between the lack of interest in Reid and the fact he was a consistent national anthem protester the last two seasons?
Reid is certain of it.
Replying to a Twitter post that asked why more general managers weren’t showing an interest in him, Reid said the GMs weren’t the problem.
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 also objected to what he claimed were “false narratives” suggesting he would end up signing with a team for a relatively cheap price because he’s been so vocal with his protests, saying that suggestion was “ludicrous.”
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
While Reid may see NFL teams as punishing him for his protests, the reality is that in the first two days of free agency, safeties have not been actively pursued. A lot of cornerbacks have switched teams, but not many safeties.
NFL.com lists Reid as the 25th-best free agent still on the market, and third-best among safeties, behind Tyrann Mathieu and Kenny Vaccaro. Green Bay’s Morgan Burnett is also a free agent and Seattle’s Earl Thomas is rumored to be available via trade.
Mathieu and Vaccaro are likely to set the market for what other top safeties might be worth, and teams may be exploring a trade for Thomas as the draft approaches. So in that context, it’s not that surprising that Reid has yet to be given any firm offers.
Reid has missed nine games over the past two seasons, so there are some legitimate health concerns about signing him to an expensive deal, but none of the other free agent safeties have the controversy surrounding anthem protests that Reid does.
Starting in 2016, Reid joined Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers sidelines by kneeling during the national anthem to protest what they perceived as racial injustice. Prior to this past season, Reid had planned to stand for the anthem, but riots in Charlottesville, Virginia in mid-August involving a white supremacist rally changed Reid’s mind, and he returned to kneeling.
Reid admitted his decision to kneel again could influence his ability to sign with a team when he became a free agent.
“This has been fueled by my faith in God,” Reid said in August, per The San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s the only reason I do it. You can’t serve God and money. So if I’m not on a team next year, I’ll be at home unhappy that I’m not on a team. But I’ll be satisfied that I did what I believed was right. And that’s being a voice for the voiceless and standing up for the oppressed.”
Reid maintained that stance in December. “There are probably teams that won’t want to talk to me because of it,” Reid said of his protests. “I’m hopeful that I will be on a team next year, but if not, again, that’s OK with me.”
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