Protester Eric Reid finally invited to make his first free agent visit of NFL offseason
The former 49ers Pro Bowler has had a difficult time finding work over the past month
After nearly four weeks as a free agent, Eric Reid is finally getting ready to make his first official visit of the offseason.
According to NFL.com, Reid is scheduled to visit with the Bengals this week, which marks the first time that the free agent safety will get to meet with a team since free agency started on March 14. The fact that the 26-year-old former first-round pick is still a free agent has raised some eyebrows around the league.
There's a belief from multiple players that Reid was being blackballed due to his decision to protest racial injustice during the national anthem.
Reid was one of the first players to join Colin Kaepernick when the quarterback's protest started in 2016 and Reid is a firm believer that NFL owners have been using that as a reason not to sign him. The former 49ers safety hasn't been shy about sharing his feelings on Twitter.
After Reid went through the first 10 days of free agency without making any visits, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins came to his defense. In a March interview, Jenkins said it was pretty clear that the only reason Reid wasn't garnering any interest is because he had been kneeling during the national anthem over the past two years.
"Absolutely. It would be hard to say that he's not getting any calls just on talent alone," Jenkins told ESPN. "I think any team that is considering him is going to weigh his political views and the strong stance that he's taken the last couple years, and that's unfortunate, but it's just kind of what it is."
If teams have been shying away from Reid because he's been kneeling during the national anthem, they won't be able to use that excuse much longer. The one-time Pro Bowler said in March that he won't be kneeling in 2018.
"I'm not saying I'm going to stop being active because I won't," Reid said. "I'm just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country and improve on the issues happening in this country."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was actually asked about the anthem situation at the NFL League Meeting in March, and it sounded like it was something he'd rather not have to deal with.
"Our guys have been excellent in this situation," Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Because we are about playing football. They have other agendas, this is not the place to be. On Sunday for us and throughout the week in the building its about football. That's how I've approached it."
The good news for the Bengals is that it's not often a Pro Bowl safety is available a month after free agency has started, which is the case with Reid. According to NFL.com, the Bengals have been thinking about running more three-safety looks in 2018, which could potentially make Reid a perfect fit for a team that already has Shawn Williams and George Iloka. At worse, Reid would add some much-needed depth in the secondary. At best, the Bengals could be getting a full-time starter if they sign Reid, and it's not often you can land a full-time starter like that this late in free agency.
Reid has been in the NFL since 2013, when the 49ers made him the 18th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Reid, who went to the Pro Bowl in his rookie year, tallied 10 interceptions during his five seasons with the 49ers.
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