Panthers sign Eric Reid, who knelt in protest with Colin Kaepernick

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Panthers sign Eric Reid, who knelt in protest with Colin Kaepernick

The Carolina Panthers have signed free agent safety Eric Reid to a one-year deal, the team announced on Thursday.

In 2016, Reid was the first player to join former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial equality and police brutality.

As explained by Sports Illustrated sports-law expert Michael McCann earlier this year, the Panthers signing Reid does not necessarily mean that he's ending his grievance against the league, though he's within his rights to do so.

Kaepernick congratulated Reid on social media Thursday, saying the 2013 Pro Bowler should have been signed "on the 1st day of free agency".

"We made this decision based on the fact he's a good football player", the Panthers general manager, Marty Hurney, told ESPN. The team just placed safety Da'Norris Searcy on injured reserve last week after he suffered multiple concussions in a short time, so Reid will likely start immediately.

"He's a physical safety with good ball skills and he makes plays and he has experience", Hurney said. I wanted to do something, but didn't know what or how to do it. The two players allege that the league's 32 owners conspired to keep them off the field due to their role in initial player national anthem protests during the 2016 NFL season. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie and was named to the All-Rookie Team.

The NFL Players Association, which supported Reid's grievance against the league, sent its congratulations to Reid.

"I hope so, but I don't know", he said.

As the report stands now, Reid and the Panthers did not discuss the safety's stance on the anthem protest moving forward this season and this was a "football move". And I don't think Reid's case is defeated by this.

The Panthers next play October 7 at home against the New York Giants.

The NFLPA filed a grievance against the NFL on behalf of Reid as he alleged he had been blackballed because he took a knee with then-teammate Kaepernick in protest during the national anthem.

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