Ron Rivera: Eric Reid signing 'a football decision'

Eric Reid's high-profile stance on social justice issues played no role in the Carolina Panthers' decision to sign Reid to a one-year deal last week.

Instead, the Panthers wanted a Pro Bowl-caliber safety who could contribute immediately in the wake of injuries to the defensive secondary.

"I thought it was a good decision, and again it was a football decision," head coach Ron Rivera told reporters Monday. "When you look at what happened to us with the injury to Da'Norris [Searcy], it made sense to look at the board and say, 'OK who's the best available player, the best available veteran player that could come in and add to your team right away?' And that's really the thought process behind it, more than anything else."

For Reid, the decision to sign with the Panthers provided an opportunity to return to the football field after going unsigned throughout the offseason despite being one of the top players available at his position.

"It actually came faster than I thought, but I'm happy to be playing football again," Reid told reporters Monday.

During his introductory press conference, Reid wore a t-shirt with #IMWITHKAP across the front of his chest, a message of support to former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The two played a large role in bringing league-wide attention to social injustice issues and racial inequality over the past two years with peaceful protests of taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

Kaepernick hasn't played football since the 2016 regular season, while Reid went unemployed this past offseason until the Panthers signed him last week. Both Kaepernick and Reid have collusion grievances currently filed against the NFL. Reid's place in his case remains unchanged despite the signing, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week.

As to what he plans to do Sunday during the national anthem, provided he's active, Reid declined to answer.

"That information is part of my case, so I can't talk about it," Reid said.

When later asked if he planned to demonstrate during the anthem, Reid said: "I said that I would be considering other ways, and I'm still considering."

Reid also said the Panthers did not ask him about his anthem plans before he signed, but he has since talked to a "couple of people" about it. Reid said he has not yet met team owner David Tepper, but the safety adds he will continue to evaluate the country and make a decision later on how to approach the national anthem.

"Nothing will change unless you talk about it, so we'll continue to talk about it," Reid said when asked if playing for the Panthers gives him more of an opportunity to discuss social injustice. "We'll continue to hold America to the standard it says on paper that we're all created equal because it's not that way right now. But we're going to keep pushing towards that."

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the team is not concerned about any potential distraction with Reid's signing and pointed out the addition is all about having an impact player on the field.

"We're not looking at it as a distraction," Munnerlyn told reporters, via David Newton of ESPN. "We're looking it as a player who can come in and help us. We're not worried about everybody outside talking about, 'Oh man, what is he going to do during the national anthem or what is he going to do about that?' We're not worried about that."

With the 26-year-old Reid, the Panthers have a player capable of providing versatility in the defensive secondary and Reid apparently didn't waste any time adjusting to his new team.

Rivera pointed out that Reid saw "about 60 percent" of Monday's practice repetitions and looked good. The Panthers coach also believes Reid could start Sunday against the New York Giants.

"Yes, I think so," Rivera told reporters. "Again, he's come in, he's in great shape, he's a guy that's really trying to learn and understand and fit in. And I think he will fit very well into what we do as a football team."

Reid entered the league in 2013 out of LSU as a first-round pick with the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent five seasons and earned a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie season.

In 2017, Reid saw action at safety positions and finished third on the team in tackles despite missing three games. On his career, Reid has started 69 games and totaled 10 interceptions and 34 passes defensed.

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