Eric Reid: New Panthers deal 'proves my point' that NFL colluded

Eric Reid signed a $1.69 million contract to play with the Carolina Panthers last September.

The deal happened four weeks into the NFL season and came months after Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, believing that owners had conspired to keep him unemployed because of his stance on social injustice protests and alignment with Colin Kaepernick.

Reid’s new deal

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On Monday, he got a hefty raise on a three-year extension in Carolina. The 27-year-old one-time Pro Bowler is slated to make more than $22 million with $10 million in guarantees over the life of the contract that he believes is “fair-market value.”

He also believes the contract only bolsters his case against the league that collusion kept him from getting a fair deal earlier.

Reid: Contract ‘proves my point from last year’

“If anything, it proves my point from last year,” Reid told reporters. “I didn’t sign until the (fourth) week and did for almost the league minimum. And this year I signed a more substantial contract. And nothing has changed. I’m still the same player.”

Reid’s numbers last season fell in line with much of what he’s accomplished over his career. In 13 games, Reid tallied 71 tackles with five passes defended, a sack and an interception.

In five prior seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Reid averaged 65 tackles, two interceptions and 6.8 passes defended over 14 games per season with one career sack.

The Carolina Panthers took a chance on Eric Reid under first-year owner David Tepper. (Getty)
The Carolina Panthers took a chance on Eric Reid under first-year owner David Tepper. (Getty)

Reid has a point

So yeah. He’s pretty much the same player he always was. Only now he has job stability and is making approximately four times the annual salary he did when the Panthers made the one-year deal last fall.

Reid lost a grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals after the team asked him specifically if he intended to continue kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against social inequality and racial injustice. An arbitrator ruled that the team was within its rights to ask the question.

Reid’s collusion grievance ongoing

But his grievance against the league is still ongoing and expected to be resolved this year.

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Reid’s stance that his new deal only bolsters his claim against league owners has merit. The Panthers eventually decided to bypass the noise of the kneeling protest when a football need presented itself and took a chance that signing Reid would be worth the potential backlash.

Hard to predict outcome of collusion case

His performance validated that gamble, and the Panthers are moving forward long-term with their starting safety. There was no valid football reason for Reid to not be on a field.

Whether his collusion case is rewarded is another thing altogether. While it’s impossible to reasonably deny that Reid was kept off the field for issues that had nothing to do with his performance, how his claim will be viewed on legal grounds is yet to be determined.

The Bengals outwardly decided to make his protest an issue, and an arbitrator decided that was OK.

But it only takes two teams to collude. The fact that the Panthers eventually signed Reid would not change that fact.

Reid’s lost hope in Kaepernick’s return

As for Kaepernick, who is the face of NFL protest and remains out of the league despite multiple needs for a quarterback of his caliber arising last season, Reid’s not holding out hope that he suits up next season.

“Knowing what I know, my hope tank is on E.”

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