2020 NFL free agency: Panthers make surprising decision to release safety Eric Reid

The Carolina Panthers are full of surprises following a disappointing 2019 season. It began with owner David Tepper aggressively stealing away head coach Matt Rhule from beneath the nose of the New York Giants, and escalated to a full-on rift with Cam Newton. The team is working to trade Newton -- or release him if they can't find a dance partner -- who fired back at the front office for framing the looming split as something he wanted to happen when he didn't. 

Now they've pulled the trigger on yet another unexpected move, releasing veteran safety Eric Reid on the first official day of NFL free agency. The 28-year-old took to social media to thank them for the time spent in Charlotte.

"It's been a pleasure Carolina!" he wrote. "I enjoyed my time and the support I received from the fans, media, teammates, and staff there will be remembered. Looking forward to furthering my career in another city!"

It shouldn't take much time for Reid to find a new home, given how much fuel he still has left in the tank. While the 2019 season was his first since 2015 without an interception, he had a career-best 130 combined tackles, six pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 16 starts. One of the few bright spots during an otherwise downtrodden season, Reid also landed a career-high four sacks, showing he can be valuable in both coverage and rushing the passer.

The former first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers (2013) joined the Panthers in 2019 on a three-year deal worth $22 million after impressing on a one-year deal signed in 2018. Only one year into his new deal, Reid is sent packing, but other teams will quickly come calling.

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