Here's where we're at in Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid grievance cases vs. NFL

Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL is close to naming an official trial date.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank is working to place Kaepernick’s collusion trial sometime between November and February, with the final date expected to be nailed down as early as next week, sources familiar with the proceedings told Yahoo Sports. The sources said the trial will most likely occur in February, following the conclusion of the Super Bowl. However, Burbank has left open the possibility of moving the proceedings up as early as November if the attorneys involved can clear their schedules.

Meanwhile, the collusion case brought by Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid against the league remains on track for 2019, despite Reid having lost his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this week. An independent arbitrator ruled against the NFLPA and Reid in that case, finding that while the Bengals did question Reid’s future protest plans during a free agency visit last April, the team didn’t violate collective-bargaining rules when it did so.

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, pictured in August at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, each have a collusion grievance against the NFL. (AP)
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, pictured in August at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, each have a collusion grievance against the NFL. (AP)

Will Reid’s arbitration loss impact Kaepernick’s case?

While the NFLPA expressed disappointment at losing Reid’s arbitration case against the Bengals, it’s not expected to have any impact on Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league – nor hinder Reid’s overarching (and ongoing) complaint against the NFL.

Reid’s arbitration loss this week came in a complaint specifically aimed at the Bengals’ conduct during their April meeting, while targeting whether or not the team was allowed to question his plans to protest.

Kaepernick’s complaint is against the whole league and not one single team, is being heard by a different arbitrator, and is founded on different principles and allegations than those in Reid’s Bengals-specific complaint. Essentially, Reid’s loss came in what qualifies as a “one-off” allegation of a CBA violation, dealing with a specific action (asking about Reid’s protests in a job interview). Kaepernick’s case is broader and alleges a more sweeping and collective agreement/conspiracy with different variables, evidence and material witnesses. In layman’s terms: it’s apples and oranges – different people, different cases, different lawyers, different facts and arguments.

Will Kaepernick and Reid try their cases together?

While Reid’s complaint against the Bengals was lost, it doesn’t halt his overall collusion complaint against the league, which is expected to lean on the same principles that have kept Kaepernick without a job.

Reid’s overall case against the NFL may be trickier than Kaepernick’s, given that he was recently signed by the Panthers, whereas Kaepernick still hasn’t managed a single free-agent visit, let alone a job offer.

Where Kaepernick and Reid’s case may differ is what each person insist they’ve lost. For Kaepernick, the assertion is he has lost all opportunities at resuming an NFL career. For Reid, it’s that he lost wages in a market he believes was suppressed to keep him without a job and ultimately resulted in him taking a cut-rate salary to play in the league.

Both cases are complicated. And while they will share some strong similarities, they’ll also vary in ways that will likely lead them to being pursued against the NFL separately from each other. But at least one underlying reality appears undeniable: If Kaepernick’s trial against the NFL in the next few months goes down in flames, Reid will have almost no chance in winning his own grievance against the league, simply because of some of the common allegations about how the league engaged in collusion. For Reid to press forward against the NFL, Kaepernick’s trial will first have to provide a basis of legitimacy for collusion.

When he’ll get that opportunity should be known in the next few days.

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