The Panthers blocked out the noise and signed the best safety on the market. Eric Reid will be a massive boost for Ron Rivera’s defense.
If not for his political beliefs there’s no question that Eric Reid would have been on an NFL roster Week 1. The rest of the league’s loss is now going to turn into the Panthers gain. Reid is a perfect fit to solidify the back-end of Ron Rivera’s talented defense.
The loss of Da’Norris Searcy to multiple concussions opened the door for Carolina to make a move. Even so, there were doubts they’d plunge into free agency to bring in Reid. Truthfully, the Panthers’ move to add Dezmen Southward to the practice squad seemed to signal the team would stand pat at safety.
Instead, the Panthers made the move most everyone else in the NFL was too scared to make. Credit new owner David Tepper for being willing to stick his neck out on this one. He’s made it clear he supports players who express their social and political opinions. Signing a prominent protester like Reid effectively puts his money where his mouth is.
From a football perspective, this was a pretty easy call. Reid may not be best cover safety in the NFL, but he was an All-Pro back in his rookie season of 2013. According to GM Marty Hurney, the acquisition of Reid gives the Panthers defense a “physical safety with good ball skills and playmaking ability.”
Adding him to the Panthers secondary starts to make the unit look pretty intimidating to opposing quarterbacks. James Bradberry has quietly established himself as a quality No. 1 cornerback capable of lining up against any receiver in the league. Rookie Donte Jackson lacks experience, but he’s already racked up three interceptions on the season. Throwing the ball against him certainly isn’t a picnic.
Free safety Mike Adams has a lot of miles on his tires, but he’s still playing at a high level. Putting a more dynamic player like Reid next to him should only increase his ability to patrol the final third. His acquisition should also allow Carolina to bring talented rookie Rashaan Gaulden on at a slower pace.
The Panthers might get some negative publicity for being the team to bring Reid back into the league, but from a football stand point it’s one of the best free agency signings of the season. Plucking a guy off the street in late September who comfortably projects as an above average starter just doesn’t happen very often. If only the Panthers could get this lucky along the offensive line.