Did Reid bait the Bengals for his own agenda?
The Cincinnati Bengals hosted safety Eric Reid for a visit before the draft. Did Reid use this visit to further navigate his own agenda?
The Cincinnati Bengals hosted former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid for a visit just a couple weeks before the 2018 NFL Draft. Reid walked away without a contract which was to be expected considering the draft was around the corner. Could Reid have used this visit to fuel his agenda?
Immediately following the news that Reid left without a contract, Pro Football Talk reported that owner Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis had asked him questions on whether he was looking to kneel during the anthem in 2018. Obviously, the Bengals organization would not have leaked this kind of information to the media, so it had to come from someone in Reid’s camp. The report said that Reid was shocked when the team asked him whether he would agree to not kneel during the anthem as they were looking to ban the protest with their players.
Reid has now filed a collusion grievance with the NFL which means the NFLPA will be getting involved. The case is similar to that of former teammate quarterback Colin Kaepernick who has also filed against the NFL. While the grievance did not mention the Bengals name directly, Cincinnati is the only team that has met with Reid this offseason.
This is the statement that the NFLPA gave on Monday.
"The NFLPA has filed a non-injury grievance and a system arbitrator case on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid. Prior to the start of the current NFL off-season, our Union directed the agents of free agent players who had participated in peaceful on-field demonstrations to collect, memorialize and report any relevant information about potential violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by teams. These cases were filed based on the following:– There is no League rule that prohibits players from demonstrating during the national anthem.– The NFL has made it clear both publicly and to the NFLPA that they would respect the rights of players to demonstrate.– The Collective Bargaining Agreement definitively states that League (NFL) rules supersede any conflicting club rules.– According to our information, a club appears to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player’s statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club’s policy prohibiting demonstration, which is contrary to the League policy.– At least one club owner has asked pre-employment interview questions about a player’s intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given League policy.Our Union continues to monitor these developments."
Whether or not Brown and Lewis asked the questions is unknown and only coming from Reid’s camp. There has yet to be proof of these questions being asked. Something else that hasn’t been addressed to the media at least is if the Bengals decided not to sign Reid because of his protest. When players meet with teams just a couple weeks before the draft, it’s common to leave without a contract. The team is looking at all their options but want first to see how the draft plays out.
Cincinnati was right to wait as they were able to grab Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates III in the second-round of the draft. The drafting of Bates is the reason that Cincinnati has not tried to sign Reid as they already found someone to fill that role. Considering the deep safety class in this year’s draft, it comes as no surprise that most teams have already filled their need at the safety position. There are also other talented safeties still waiting in free agency to sign with a team including former Los Angeles Chargers safety Tre Boston. The difference is that Boston has received calls following the draft.
There’s no doubt that Reid would be an excellent signing for a team in need of a versatile safety. It remains unclear whether or not that is due to his protests or not as no team has come out and said that to be the reason.
Reid likely knew that he would be walking away without a contract when he met with Cincinnati considering the timing of the visit. Could he have gone to the visit with the intentions of filing a grievance with some juice to it? It would not be far-fetched considering how quickly the news broke to Pro Football Talk. Regardless, it will be tough for Reid to win his collusion case and prove that Cincinnati or any other team is not calling him because of his protests given what he would need to make his evidence of collusion.
"The complaining party shall bear the burden of demonstrating by a clear preponderance of the evidence that (1) the challenged conduct was or is in violation of Section 1 of this Article (No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making) and (2) caused any economic injury to such player(s)."
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It seems to me that Reid used the Bengals visit to further fuel his grievance against the NFL. Considering that there has been no proof other than the words from Reid about the Bengals organization asking him about his further protests and that they filled their need for safety in the second-round of the draft, the case will likely go nowhere.