The Carolina Panthers have signed free agent safety Eric Reid to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.
The Pro Bowler became a free agent this past offseason after starting 12 of 13 games for the 49ers.
Reid is currently involved in a lawsuit against the NFL. After joining former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial equality and police brutality, the NFLPA filed a greivance with the NFL on Reid's behalf last season. The lawsuit alleges that team owners and the league, influenced by President Donald Trump, colluded to prevent his employment because of his protests.
Kaepernick congratulated his former teammate and fellow "social justice warrior" following Reid's signing, adding that the All Pro safety "should have been signed the 1st day of free agency."
After the Panthers starting safety Da'Norris Searcy was placed on injured reserve due to a concussion, the team desperately needed depth at the safety position. The team has said that their conversations with Reid were strictly football related, as his ongoing legal battle does not impact his ability to play this season.
"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 (safety) 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.”
Reid, 26, played five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers after being selected by the team in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. The Louisiana State product tallied a total of 375 tackles, 10 interceptions, 34 passes defended, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries throughout his time in San Francisco.