It took about a year longer than expected, but safety Eric Reid finally got his long-term contract. 

On Monday, Reid signed a three-year contract with the Panthers. According to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, the deal is worth more than $22 million — a figure that Reid confirmed to reporters — and could reach $24 million after incentives. 

“It gives my family peace of mind, knowing what will be the next couple years,” Reid said, per The Charlotte Observer. “I enjoy being here, the city reminds me of where I grew up in Louisiana. It’s low-key here, it’s not too busy. … I like the defense, I like the coaching staff, so I’m excited.”

Reid, a former first-round pick of the 49ers who was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick in his protest against social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem, is finally getting what he wanted and quite frankly, probably deserved a year ago when he hit free agency but went completely unsigned despite experiencing a career season in 2017. Like Kaepernick, who remains unsigned, he responded by filing a collusion grievance against the NFL, which is ongoing. 

It wasn’t until late September that Reid signed with the Panthers, who lost safety Da’Norris Searcy to injured reserve. His contract last season was worth less than $2 million, according to Spotrac. The contract he signed on Monday included $10 million in guaranteed money, according to Silver. 

With the Panthers for 13 games this past season, Reid racked up 71 combined tackles, one sack, one interception, and five passes defended. He also continued his protest, becoming the first Panthers player to kneel during the national anthem. Late in the year, Reid accused the NFL of targeting him with drug tests, saying he was tested seven times in his first 11 weeks with the Panthers. The NFL and NFLPA issued a rebuttal, which Reid and his lawyers rejected.

In terms of strictly football, a starting-caliber safety who was set to hit free agency won’t be available on the open market. It’s a good get for the Panthers, who only had the opportunity to sign Reid for extremely cheap last season because safety-needy teams refused to sign him in the spring and then banged up teams like the Falcons failed to take advantage of his availability early in the season. With safety Mike Adams also scheduled to hit free agency, the Panthers needed to address the backend of their secondary, which they did by giving Reid an offer that he felt was fair. 

“There were a couple factors (in deciding where to sign),” Reid said. “I can envision my family being here during the season and being satisfied with the contract. If I wasn’t satisfied with the contract, I would’ve went into free agency.”

Teams in need of a safety this spring will still have plenty of options with guys like Earl Thomas, LaMarcus Joyner, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Tyrann Mathieu all set to become free agents next month. 

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