Former 49ers safety Eric Reid is getting another shot in the NFL — and that’s bad news for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Carolina Panthers signed the free agent safety to a one-year contract on Thursday, nearly a year after Reid and Kaepernick filed an official grievance letter with the NFL, alleging that team owners and the league colluded to prevent their employment due to anthem protest activities.
Unlike Kaepernick, Reid has been given his second chance to play in the NFL again… which is a serious blow to Kaepernick’s lawsuit.
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The former 49ers safety was the second player to kneel during the anthem after Kaepernick began the controversial movement to kneel during the national anthem. Since then, the two have complained there’s been a conspiracy to keep them out of the NFL.
That is, until Reid signed a new, lucrative deal Thursday.
Panthers general manager Mary Hurney said he wasn’t concerned about Reid’s past protests, telling The Associated Press it was a “football decision” — and one that was approved by new owner David Tepper.
“Every decision we make we communicate with” Tepper, Hurney said.
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Tepper bought the team from Jerry Richardson this past summer.
“Everybody we sign we ask if he has the skill set and if he helps us win football games — and we feel the answer is yes,” Hurney said of Reid.
It’s unclear if Reid plans to continue his protests when he begins playing for the Panthers.
He is expected to start right away after the Panthers placed Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve last week.
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The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Reid played the first five seasons of his NFL career with San Francisco after the 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
“He’s a physical safety with good ball skills and he makes plays and he has experience,” Hurney said. “He’s a young player with skins on the wall. He has played at a very high level. He comes in and helps make our safety position better.”
Reid earned Pro Bowl and All-Rookie honors in his first season after starting all 16 games for the 49ers and recording 92 tackles, four interceptions, 11 passes defensed and one fumble recovery. He started all three playoff games for the 49ers in 2013, helping the team to an NFC Championship game appearance.
He started 69 of 70 regular season games played during his career, tallying 375 tackles, 10 interceptions, 34 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
With Reid retaking the field, critics say that it’s clear Kaepernick isn’t being signed because of the protest… but because he just wasn’t good enough at football.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.