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Will Eric Reid get signed by anybody this offseason?

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Free agency will be interesting for the 49ers safety.

San Francisco 49ers v Chicago Bears

It has been nearly a year since Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers parted ways, and the quarterback remains unsigned. Barring something entirely unexpected, it seems unlikely he will ever play in the NFL again.

As we move into the 2018 offseason, I find myself wondering what might happen with 49ers safety Eric Reid when the market opens in March. Since joining Kaepernick in taking a knee to protest police brutality specifically, and social injustice more broadly, Reid has emerged as a face of the kneelers, particularly as the Players Coalition has dealt with internal issues.

ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant put together a lengthy feature regarding the issues that have arisen amongst the players who have worked within the Players Coalition to fight social injustice. Much of the facts have been reported on previously, including extensively by SB Nation, but it does include some additional on-the-record quotations from Reid, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

It’s a read well worth your time. There are a lot of moving parts in the movement that began with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee. And as Bryant points out, there is a strong comparison to be made between what is going on now and what went on during the Civil Rights movement. There were people who wanted to work within the system, and those who thought the system itself was inherently broken and not worth saving. Give Bryant’s feature a read when you get a minute.

Aside from the specifics of the article, it also got me thinking about Reid’s future in the NFL. The 49ers could elect to re-sign him and further boost their safety depth chart, but my guess is they do not re-sign him. If that happens, does he go unsigned around the rest of the league?

The Seattle Seahawks could use someone like Reid if Kam Chancellor is unable to return from his neck injury. And there are going to be several teams looking for safety help. Eric Reid is not the “best” safety in the NFL, but he is a very solid player. He seems better suited down near the box than roaming deep in more of a center field role, but he has proven his ability to do either.

And yet, would it be all that surprising if he ends up getting passed over in free agency? I hope that does not prove to be the case, but it’s hard to have a lot of faith in this system at the moment. If he does go unsigned, I have no doubt we’ll hear some arguments that he’s not a good football player, or “not good enough for the distractions he brings.”

We have seen what has happened with Colin Kaepernick, and in Bryant’s article, Chris Long says he thinks his actions might have impacted his situation as well. It seems like the more vocal players are the ones who might be more likely to face a backlash on the open market. I’m holding out hope Reid does find a job, but I’m setting my expectations low for the time being.