Eric Reid files collusion grievance vs. NFL

NFL columnist
Yahoo Sports

Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid has become the second NFL player in the past seven months to file a collusion grievance against the NFL.

Reid’s attorney, Mark Geragos, filed the complaint Wednesday morning. ESPN first reported the filing.

Eric Reid’s ties to Colin Kaepernick

Reid’s filing is separate from that of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who alleged in a grievance last October that NFL owners and executives were colluding to keep him out of the league as a result of his social activism on gameday. Kaepernick began protesting during the national anthem to raise awareness for racial equality and social justice reform. He has been out of the NFL since entering free agency in March of 2017.

Eric Reid, kneeling with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, remains a free agent. (AP)
Eric Reid, kneeling with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, remains a free agent. (AP)

One of Kaepernick’s most vocal supporters has been the 26-year-old Reid, who also knelt alongside Kaepernick during the anthem and has been outspoken about his own social activism. Reid entered free agency in March but has yet to draw a contract offer from an NFL team. This despite visiting with the Cincinnati Bengals in April – a visit in which Reid declined to give any commitments about whether or not he would kneel during the 2018 season.

The union issued a statement of support for Reid after Wednesday’s filing.

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“Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement,” the statement said. “Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”

The NFL should’ve known this was coming

With Kaepernick’s collusion case grinding along through depositions and the discovery process over the past several months, Reid’s flat market in free agency has been raising eyebrows since March. So much so that commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about it at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando late that month.

“Guys, I’ve said this repeatedly to you: the 32 teams make their individual decisions on the players that they think are going to best help their franchises,” Goodell said while concluding those meetings. “Those are decisions that they have to make. They do that every day. They do that in the best interests of winning and putting the best franchises together. They’ll make those decisions. I’m not directly involved with those.”

But as Yahoo Sports wrote in March, Reid’s non-existent market was threatening to cast a looming cloud over Goodell and the league – in anticipation that it could lead to Wednesday’s collusion filing. Now that it has happened, the league could potentially be facing a second, parallel track of discovery and depositions, similar to those already taking place in the Kaepernick case.

However, both cases are expected to portray the same picture, one in which NFL owners have colluded to keep Reid and Kaepernick out of the league in retaliation for their kneeling during the national anthem.

During the 2017 season with the 49ers, Reid appeared to be aware this scenario – both his unemployment and a collusion case – could play out after his activism. As Kaepernick’s close friend, he was well-aware of what the quarterback had faced in his attempts to secure a contract in free agency. But unlike Kaepernick, Reid also had some more personal interactions with NFL powerbrokers. Notably his attendance of a meeting in New York last November, between a select group of owners and a players coalition seeking to promote social justice reform and racial equality. Reid was vocal during that meeting, including an instance in which he brought up Kaepernick’s unemployment in the discussions.

Six months later he would be alleging some of the same owners were conspiring to keep him out of the league as well.

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