Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid took his first free agency visit this week, but the topic of his kneeling during the national anthem in recent seasons remains a prominent subject.
Pro Football Talk reported on Wednesday that Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown personally met with Reid during his visit on Monday and initiated a conversation that centered “almost exclusively” on the issue of player protests during the anthem.
Per the report, Brown said he plans to prohibit his players from kneeling during the anthem and asked the 26-year-old for his response. Reid was caught off guard by the question and was not willing to promise he would not kneel moving forward.
Reid told reporters in March that he planned to stop protesting during the anthem while pursuing other ways to remain active in his efforts.
“We understand you have to change with the times,” he said at the time. “I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country and improve on the issues happening in this country. I don’t think it will be in the form of protesting during the anthem.”
According to PFT, Reid continued his visit with the Bengals by taking a physical with the medical staff and meeting with coaches, who gave Reid the impression they would like to sign him regardless of non-football factors.
Then, after being asked by head coach Marvin Lewis if he would like to clarify anything he told ownership on the subject of the anthem, Reid said he would not, and the visit ended soon after without the team extending an offer.
The team issued a statement to PFT regarding Reid’s visit, reading, “The Club conducts many interviews with players throughout the year. The Club views these interviews as confidential and does not comment on them.”
Reid was vocal in mid-March about the lack of interest in his services as a result of his protests, noting that the opposition to signing him is coming from owners, not football personnel staff.
“GMs aren’t the hold up broski. It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character,” Reid tweeted in response to a commenter.
Despite intercepting 10 passes in 70 career games and making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Reid is best known as the first teammate to kneel beside Colin Kaepernick when the then-49ers quarterback began kneeling during the national anthem in the 2016 preseason.
Reid acknowledged in December that his protests could impact his options in free agency, but added he was not concerned.
“I would say I understand that’s a possibility,” Reid told ESPN at the time. “And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”
To this point, there have been no reports of any contract offers or additional visits extended to Reid, who officially hit free agency March 14.