Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) watches a game against the Los Angeles Rams from the sideline at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on September 12, 2016. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid settle collusion suit with NFL

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not played in the NFL since the end of the 2016 season, has settled the lawsuit he filed with safety Eric Reid against the NFL.

The two players — who both kneeled during the National Anthem during the 2016 season to protest police brutality against minority communities — reached a financial settlement with the NFL in their joint collusion complaint against the league. They will take no further action against the league.

Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick’s with the 49ers, was the first player to join Kaepernick in his protests, and continued to kneel for the anthem in 2017 after Kaepernick opted out of his contract with San Francisco. While Kaepernick has remained unsigned for two seasons after his initial protest, Reid, a former first-round pick in 2013, was left without a job until he signed with the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 27, just ahead of Week 4.

The league and Kaepernick’s attorneys released a statement Friday, saying that the matter had been resolved confidentially, which means it’s likely that both sides signed a non-disclosure agreement to not to speak publicly about details of the case or settlement. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, however, has heard from multiple NFL team officials who speculated that the settlement is likely in the range of $60-$80 million.

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” the statement said. “As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

The agreement comes after news broke that Kaepernick — who was recently the subject of a Nike advertising campaign related to the fallout from his protest — had reportedly demanded $20 million to play in the new spring league, the Alliance of American Football, which signs all players to standard, $250,000 non-guaranteed 3-year deals.

In his last 12 games as an NFL player, Kaepernick posted a 90.7 quarterback rating — better than Phillip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Carson Wentz, Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick — while throwing for 2,241 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran the ball for 468 yards and two touchdowns that season, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt. This season in the NFL, 10 quarterbacks with nine or more starts had worse QB ratings than Kaepernick in his last active season, including two — Matt Stafford and Case Keenum — who started 16 games.

Given the fact that Kaepernick had led a team to the Super Bowl, and been a quality NFL starter, the fact that he and Reid had gone unsigned prompted the two to sue the NFL for collusion.

After Kaepernick kneeled, then Reid, multiple NFL players adopted the protest in 2017, hoping to draw attention to issues of social justice and racial inequality. The protests drew the ire of President Donald Trump, which prompted the league to institute a rule banning protests during the National Anthem. That rule has since been put on hold by the NFL and is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Reid has since signed a three-year deal with the Panthers this offseason.

It should be noted that players being on the field for the anthem is a relatively new development. As recently as 2017, there was no NFL rule that players had to stand for the National Anthem. In fact, it wasn’t until 2009 that players were even mandated to be on the field for the song.

“Today, we were informed by the NFL of the settlement of the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion cases,” the NFLPA said. “We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel. We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”


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