• Akash Anavarathan

As OTA's loom, it's likely Eric Reid never plays another snap -- and why that's blasphem

It was Day 122 of the offseason, Eric Reid -- still an NFL free agent -- was in Amsterdam supporting Colin Kaepernick and the Know Your Rights Camp. After the event, the ex-49ers' safety tweeted out "Amazing time teaming w @amnesty to bring a version of our Know Your Rights Camp to Amsterdam! Empowering youth internationally & teaching them their human rights!"

Reid is teammates with Kaepernick once again -- but not on the football field -- in the community, raising awareness to the youth on social rights.

While the argument goes back and forth on whether Kaepernick is a viable starter in the NFL, there should be no doubt that the 26-year old free safety deserves a starting spot on opening day -- especially in a pass-happy league.

The former LSU defensive player should have been signed to a contract within the first few weeks of Free Agency, but here we are nearly two months later, with only one suitor. Reid visited Cincinnati earlier in the offseason, but was turned down for a contract after his kneeling was brought up.

While some have argued that the free-agent safety market wasn't strong, here are some of the names that were signed immediately after March 14th: Kurt Coleman, Morgan Burnett, Tyrann Mathieu and Michael Thomas. These were the four players that received the biggest contracts in terms of total value.

Pro Football Focus graded out Eric Reid with an 81.4 in 2017 -- higher than what PFF gave Coleman, Burnett, Mathieu and Thomas -- take that for data.

As fans, we waited into late March, then until the NFL Draft and now into OTAs for a potential Reid signing. There is no sign of that coming into fruition.

Is his age the issue? At 26 years old, he's younger than all but one of the safeties that have signed so far -- Jaylen Watkins. Or is it his lack of versatility? Reid started out his career playing center field for the 49ers, has played closed to the line of scrimmage and even played off-ball linebacker this past season in San Francisco.

Reid has racked up 10 interceptions, 264 tackles and forced three fumbles in his short career. Out of a possible 80 games, the ex-49er has only missed 10.

Concussions and nagging injuries have deterred the play of Reid the past few seasons, understandable given the physicality of his play and position. But he finished the season fully healthy and there's no concern heading into 2018.

It all seems to be coming back to one thing -- Reid's support of Kaepernick and taking a knee during the National Anthem. Now the only thing taking a knee is his football career.

Reid, Kaepernick and the NFLPA are suing the NFL for collusion 10-- a case that will be nearly impossible to win. The filing of this case has all but slammed the door on a Reid reunion in the NFL.

Roger Goodell, the owners and the NFL have made their position clear; they're going to continue to prioritize the cash in the cash cow, rather than voicing support for their players. Adam Silver and the NBA have been proactive, allowing players to stand up for their beliefs and voice their support for human rights -- yet the NFL continues to lag behind.

As a result of the NFL's money-first agenda, Eric Reid finds himself job-less five seasons into a promising career. While Reid's opposition continues to move the goal the longer that he remains un-signed, don't lose sight of the mark. Reid absolutely deserves to have his jersey hanging in an NFL locker room, but he's currently fighting a bigger battle.

In the voice of Stephen A. Smith, it's ridiculous, blasphemous and preposterous that Reid is at the unemployment desk -- five years into his career.

*Writer's Note: Per Mike Garafolo, Eric Reid was offered a one-year deal with San Francisco, but refused, seeking a long-term deal elsewhere.

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