During the 2016 season, former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid joined his former teammate, Colin Kaepernick, in kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality and systemic racism. Reid continued to kneel during the 2017 season, and now that he has seen the balance of the free agency come and go without much interest in his services, he is joining Kaepernick once again.
According to a report from ESPN.com's Dan Graziano, Reid has filed a collusion grievance against the league, using the same attorney Kaepernick used for his grievance filing.
The NFL Players Association distributed its own statement in support of Reid.
Reid is clearly one of the top safeties on the open market so it is surprising that he has not yet been signed.
As several people have pointed out throughout the offseason, the safety market in general has been slow, with players like Kenny Vaccaro and Tre Boston remaining unsigned as well. But CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported in March that several agents believe teams are avoiding the entire position group . Several players around the league, such as Torrey Smith and Devin McCourty, have that they believe the are why Reid has not been getting interest on the market. And with reports in recent weeks detailing Reid's confrontations with owners during discussions about the protests last season, Reid has some reason to believe that the behind his continued unemployment.
Reid has been open about the fact that he feels his earnings are being held back by owners who do not approve of his protests.
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
As ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reported Wednesday, Bengals owner Mike Brown personally posed questions to Reid about the player kneeling during pre-game national anthems when the two sides met on Monday, telling the former San Francisco 49ers starter "that he intends to prohibit" such protests and asking for Reid's response. While Reid has indicated he doesn't plan to continue using the anthem as a platform for protesting social injustice, he did not commit to forgoing any demonstration "at the direct request and behest of Brown," per PFT, and this apparently led to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis asking Reid before the safety ended his visit if he wanted to "clarify" anything he told Brown.
Reid is now taking his position to court, and this situation seems likely to play out over the rest of the offseason, and possibly beyond.