No one knew when the waiting game for Eric Reid would be over. The San Francisco 49ers let the veteran safety hit the free agent market this offseason. Undoubtedly untouched because of him joining Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the National Anthem, there was real wonder setting in that he may never play in the NFL again. And then that call came from an NFL team. The Panthers were in need of a safety with Da'Norris Searcy placed on Injured Reserve with concussion issues. Carolina reached out to Reid and decided to sign him for the rest of the season. Just like that, Reid was given another chance to play in the NFL. The first question many wondered was if or if not he would have a protest planned for the National Anthem. After Reid answered and the talk of what he would or wouldn't do subsided, the talk then shifted to the football field. Reid has been named the starter for Carolina on Sunday as the Panthers host the New York Giants. So with him stepping into the starting role, what can the Panthers and their fans expect from Reid?
One thing they can expect is some versatility. During his time in the NFL, Reid could line up at multiple spots on the field. He can play centerfield for the defense because he has great range to cover the field. Reid is physical enough to come down in the box and tackle running backs as well. And along with his range and physical play, Reid can play man coverage versus tight ends from opposing teams. The versatility he offers the Panthers is great for this defense. With the loss of Searcy, the Panthers could not have asked for a better player than Reid to replace him. Quite honestly, with all that he can do, everyone knows that he is a better player than Searcy.
Along with the versatility of Reid, the veteran presence is something the Panthers needed. The Panthers have longtime NFL safety Mike Adams in their secondary at safety, but other than him, there was youth (Rashaan Gaulden and Demetrious Cox) and inexperience (Colin Jones). Bringing in Reid means the Panthers can let the youth at safety grow even more while letting the inexperienced player stay in a role more comfortable for him like special teams. Along with the experience on the field, Reid also offers another player that has playoff experience, which makes the defense even better than they were before.
The Panthers may have lost a starter, but it's not very often that you upgrade when you lose a starting safety. Reid is a starter in the NFL and the Panther saw that and were not deterred from signing him due to his protest. The move means the Panthers are all about winning and finding a way to make their team better. With Reid, they brought in a player with a winning mentality and a guy that makes them tougher to play against. It will be interesting to see how soon he gets acclimated fully to the defense. The one good thing he has going for him heading into this signing is some of the calls Carolina uses are very similar to what he used in college.