NFLPA files grievance on Eric Reid's behalf, claims owner asked him about anthem plans

Less than a week after Eric Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, the NFL Players Association has filed a non-injury grievance and a system arbitrator case on his behalf. Over the past two seasons, Reid has participated in protests during the national anthem -- a movement that was started by Colin Kaepernick and has been carried on by other players despite his absence from the league -- and has been unable to find a new team since becoming a free agent this offseason.

On Monday, the NFLPA announced their decision, writing in their release that they told agents of free agents who had participated in the protests during the national anthem to "collect, memorialize and report any relevant information about potential violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by teams." 

The NFLPA went on to write that "a club appears to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player's statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club's policy prohibiting demonstration" and that "at least one club owner has asked preemployment interview questions about a player's intent to demonstrate."

The NFLPA doesn't name the owner, but its release meshes with what Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported last month. According to PFT, Bengals owner Mike Brown asked Reid questions about his protesting plans. Brown reportedly told Reid, who was visiting the team in free agency, that he plans to restrict players from protesting during the national anthem and then asked Reid for a response.

Florio reports:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Brown personally met with Reid when Reid visited the Bengals on Monday. Brown, according to the source, initiated discussion regarding the issue of kneeling during the anthem. The conversation almost exclusively centered on the topic, with Brown explaining that he intends to prohibit it — and with Brown at one point asking Reid for his response.

Reid, caught off guard by the line of questioning, wasn't willing to make a commitment on the spot. Last month, Reid said he's currently not planning to kneel or otherwise demonstrate during the anthem. But Reid, who is considering other options for bringing attention to societal issues he considers to be important, hasn't made any final decisions, and he wasn't willing to do so at the direct request and behest of Brown.

Florio added that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis later asked Reid if he wanted to clarify what he'd told Brown. Reid declined to do so.

Reid seems to think that it's the owners -- not general managers and coaches -- who are preventing him from getting a fair contract to play football.

Meanwhile, players like Torrey Smith and Devin McCourty have come out in support of Reid.

A first-round pick in 2013, Reid played in 70 of 80 possible regular-season games for the 49ers, racking up 264 tackles, 36 passes defended, and 10 interceptions. Last season, Pro Football Focus graded him as the 30th best safety in football -- in the same range as players like Tashaun Gipson, Tre Boston, Duron Harmon, and Jamal Adams -- which indicates that he's a starting-caliber player or at the very least, a rosterable player. At 26, Reid should be able to play in the NFL for several more seasons, provided he eventually gets signed.

Kaepernick, who started the protests against racial injustice in August 2016, hasn't found a new team since he became a free agent last spring. In the meantime, Kaepernick has followed through on his pledge to donate $1 million to various charities while his collusion suit against the league moves forward.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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