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It’s not a big surprise that the Panthers are retaining Eric Reid, but the amount of money they are paying the talented safety will raise some eyebrows.
Eric Reid has made a lot of headlines off the field during his NFL career, but it’s safe to say the Panthers really liked what he did on the field in 2018. Instead of allowing the versatile safety to hit the free-agent market, they’ve elected to lock him on with a new long-term contract.
According to NFL.com, the Panthers have inked Reid to a three-year contract that will pay him somewhere between $22 and $24 million over the course of the contract. Receiving that kind of compensation should effectively end his battle with the NFL over the issue of whether or not owners colluded to keep him out of the league.
Ron Rivera and Co. are much more concerned with how keeping Reid in the fold will help solidify their secondary moving forward. He will presumably continue to start at the free safety spot which is particularly important since the team’s starter at strong safety, Mike Adams, is already 37 years old. The Panthers may elect to replace him with a younger option in free agency or try to prepare second-year player Rashaan Gaulden to take his snaps next season.
There’s no question that having Reid at free safety helps the Panthers defense, but it is fair to question whether or not this is an overpay. The free-agent market for safeties has been notoriously slow in recent years. The fact that big-name options like Tyrann Mathieu and Landon Collins are also unrestricted free agents this offseason could have easily pushed Reid’s price down on the open market.
Instead, Carolina elected to hand Reid a deal that should make him one of the highest paid free safeties in football next season. Even if you assume he’ll just make $7 million that should put him right around the top-10 safeties in the NFL in terms of compensation. It’s very possible the Panthers could have waited out the free-agent market and signed a slightly worse player at a much lower price.
The upside for the Panthers front office is that it fills a big need well ahead of April’s draft. Carolina needs to spend a lot of resources upgrading their options on both the offensive and defensive lines. Locking Reid up for the next few years pushes the safety position way down the team’s list of needs.
Ultimately, the Panthers have signed a quality starter for a reasonable price. This isn’t a bargain move by Marty Hurney, but it should help the team get back to the postseason next year if Cam Newton can stay healthy.