Panthers' Torrey Smith says Eric Reid is 'being locked down' because of protests

Almost a month into 2018 NFL free agency, former Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid has yet to find a new team.

And two weeks after a contingent of players, including fellow safeties Devin McCourty and Malcolm Jenkins, said the ex-San Francisco 49ers starter is being ignored by teams because of his outspoken role in protesting social injustice alongside former Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, another veteran has spoken out in support of Reid.

New Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith, who spent two seasons in San Francisco with Reid from 2015-2016, sparked a conversation with fans on Twitter this week when he posted: "FREE ERIC REID."

When some of Smith's followers responded wondering whether Reid had gone to jail, the former 49ers wideout said Reid "would be the last person to get in trouble" and that, rather than having been locked up, the safety "is being locked down."

He is just the latest to suggest that Reid has been overlooked in a market that saw older or less accomplished safeties like Don Carey, Keith Tandy, Da'Norris Searcy, Reggie Nelson, Terrence Brooks and Cody Davis land contracts -- a market that's also seen little interest in the New Orleans Saints' Kenny Vaccaro, who, like Reid, protested social issues during pre-game national anthems. Even cornerback Richard Sherman spoke of Reid deserving a job during his introductory press conference with Reid's old team, suggesting "legal action" could eventually be taken if the safety doesn't sign somewhere.

Reid himself acknowledged before the end of the 2017 season that his protests, which he's said he will not continue in 2018, might make him an unwanted man in free agency. And when free agency actually began, he wasn't shy about telling fans that NFL team owners -- not general managers -- were behind his lack of job offers.

A first-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2013, Reid joined Kaepernick in kneeling during anthems to protest systemic racism in 2016, a year before hundreds of others players partook in protests in the lead-up to an $89-million charity partnership with the NFL. He missed nine games between the 2016 and 2017 seasons due to injuries but was a full-time starter for San Francisco from the start of his rookie season.

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