The NFL Players Association on Monday announced it has filed a grievance on behalf of free-agent safety Eric Reid, who played his first five NFL seasons with the 49ers.
Reid has taken only one free-agent visit this offseason. In April, he met with the Cincinnati Bengals. Team owner Mike Brown reportedly spoke extensively to Reid about the protest of racial inequality. According to Pro Football Talk, Brown told Reid he plans to prohibit his players from protesting during the national anthem.
The incident with Brown appears to be referenced in the grievance that the players union filed on Reid’s behalf:
“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. “
The grievance states that the NFL has no rule that prohibits players from demonstrating during the anthem. And the league’s collective bargaining agreement “definitively states that League rules superseide any conflicting team rules,” according to the grievance.
Moreover, the grievance alleges that one NFL team “appears” to have based its decision to not offer a contract on Reid’s statement that he would challenge the implementation on a league rule prohibiting players from protesting.
Reid and Colin Kaepernick first began taking a knee during the national anthem in a protest of police brutality and racial injustice at the beginning of the 2016 season. Kaepernick was out of the league last year, and Reid continued the protest through the 2017 season.
In March, Reid indicated that he would continue to be an activist but that he probably would not demonstrate during the national anthem.
“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.
“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”
The 49ers are not beleived to have offered Reid a contract, and the club appears to have no plan for Reid. In addition to veteran defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward and Adrian Colbert, the 49ers added three potential safeties through the draft: Tarvarius Moore, D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris.