Amid the hustle and bustle of NBA All Star weekend, the NFL quietly reached a deal to settle the grievances of Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. In 2017, Kaepernick and Reid accused the NFL of colluding to keep them out of the league after their decision to protest social injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem.
Kaepernick began protesting in August of 2016 and became a free agent at the end of the season. Despite many teams having questions at quarterback, Kap – a Super Bowl quarterback – has remained unemployed.
Reid, a safety, went unsigned for all of 2017 until the Carolina Panthers picked him up in October 2018. After racking up 71 tackles and an interception, Reid signed a three-year, $22 million extension with the Panthers.
Mark Geragos, Kap’s attorney, and the NFL both released identical statements disclosing that the parties had reached a resolution and that there would be no further comment from anyone involved. While collusion can be difficult to prove, it is obvious the claims had some validity.
NPR’s Tom Goldman reported that “to prove collusion, (Kaepernick) doesn’t have to show every team is conspiring – it can be as few as two teams, or one team and the league agree they want to keep out the former Super Bowl quarterback.”
Enter the Carolina Panthers. Under new ownership of David Tepper, the club is proving to be consistent in protecting the rights of its players – including free speech – and combating the mistreatment of minorities, the Panthers are a very logical destination for Kaepernick if he is to return to the league. In an interview with CNN, Geragos said that his client “absolutely wants to play” in the NFL and called Carolina a “natural place” for Kap to be. In addition to being a franchise that will support his views, the Panthers would offer an opportunity for Kap to reunite with Reid who has been steadfast in his peaceful protest and fight for equality.
In addition to what the Panthers could offer for Kap, they could also benefit greatly from bringing him to the franchise. The Panthers stumbled to a 7-9 record after beginning 6-2 in part due to the declining health of starting quarterback Cam Newton. Newton had arthroscopic surgery at the end of January and no time table for his recovery has been disclosed. This is Newton’s second shoulder surgery since 2017.
With some calling for Newton to sit out the 2019 to completely recover, Kap would bring necessary experience and skill level to the club. The Panthers had three different quarterbacks under center the final two games of the regular season.