On Thursday, National Football League’s (NFL) Carolina Panthers announced the signing of safety Eric Reid - who famously mounted protests with former San Francisco 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick two years ago - to a one-year contract.
The Panthers mainstay safety Da'Norris Searcy went on injured reserve before Week 3 with a concussion and the backup safeties struggled last week, prompting the team to seek extra help.
"Eric has been a starting safety in the NFL and has played at a high level throughout his career," general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. "After we put Da'Norris Searcy on injured reserve, Ron [Rivera] and I discussed our options, and Eric was at the top of our list. He is a physical safety with good ball skills and play-making ability."
Social justice activist Reid joined Kaepernick in filing a grievance against the NFL alleging collusion against players who protested during the national anthem. Reid's place in the collusion lawsuit remains unchanged despite the signing, NFL Network Insider’s Ian Rapoport reported.
The duo took a controversial stance to kneel, in the league’s 2016 season, to protest social injustice and racial inequality.
Panthers new owner David Tepper has expressed support for NFL players. "These are some of the most patriotic people and best people. These are great young men," Tepper told CNBC on Sept. 13. "So to say that [they aren't patriotic] makes me so aggravated and angry. It's just wrong, it's dead wrong."
Reid’s football career consists of 69 regular season games played, 375 tackles earned, 10 interceptions, 34 passes defended, and two forced fumbles. He earned Pro Bowl honors his rookie season.
The Panthers deal has a base value of US$1 million and can be worth up to US$1.9 million, Rapoport disclosed. The contract includes play-time incentives, Pro Bowl incentives and per-game roster bonuses.
NFL Network reported that the 49ers had expressed interest in bringing Reid back on a multi-year deal and the Seattle Seahawks offered Reid a one-year deal in August.
Thursday Kaepernick offered his support for Reid in an Instagram post.
"Congratulations to my brother @e_reid35, an all-pro safety who should have been signed the first day of free agency, who has signed a football contract," Kaepernick wrote. "He was the FIRST person to kneel alongside me. Eric is a social justice warrior, continues to support his wife, two beautiful daughters and communities in need."
The NFL Players Association president also congratulated Reid: "Our union is proud to stand by one of its strongest player leaders and we congratulate Eric for making it back to doing the job he loves."