Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a polarizing activist figure whom the Ravens considered signing two years ago, and current Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid have settled their collusion cases against the NFL, the league announced Friday.
“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” attorney Mark Geragos and the NFL said in a joint statement. “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.”
No details were made available.
Kaepernick filed a grievance in October 2017, saying he was blacklisted because of protests during the national anthem at games. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016, while Reid, who filed a grievance last May, missed three games last season before signing with Carolina. Kaepernick contended that team owners violated their collective bargaining agreement with players by conspiring to keep him off teams.
A wave of protests by NFL players, including some Ravens, began in 2016 after Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. The protests grew into one of the most polarizing issues in sports, with President Donald Trump loudly urging the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrate during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Kaepernick filed his grievance just months after the Ravens acknowledged in July 2017 that they were considering signing him. With Joe Flacco sidelined by a back injury through training camp, Ravens officials said they spoke to current and former players along with fans and sponsors as they mulled whether to add the former 49ers quarterback, who had faced the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
An ESPN report in August 2017 said owner Steve Bisciotti had resisted signing Kaepernick despite a preference from general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh to do so. Newsome disputed the account, saying in a statement that no decision had been made.
The following month, with Kaepernick still unsigned, former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” that an unflattering tweet from Kaepernick’s girlfriend was behind the Ravens’ decision to not sign him. The post compared Bisciotti and Lewis to characters from "Django Unchained": Leonardo DiCaprio's cruel plantation owner and Samuel L. Jackson's loyal house slave, respectively.
"We were going to close the deal to sign him," Lewis said. "Steve Bisciotti said, ‘I want to hear Colin Kaeperkick speak to let me know that he wants to play football.’ … And it never happens because that picture comes up the next day.”
Arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank later denied the league’s request to throw out Kaepernick’s claims of collusion, meaning there was enough evidence to keep the grievances going. Kaepernick reportedly attended Newsome and Harbaugh's depositions in April 2018 at the team facility.
A Ravens spokesman declined to comment on the settlement, deferring to the league’s statement.
While he has been away from the playing field, Kaepernick has become an advocate for battling social and racial injustice. On Thursday, a person with knowledge of the conversations told the Associated Press that Kaepernick turned down a chance to join the fledgling Alliance of American Football, seeking $20 million or more from the upstart league that pays its players $225,000 over three seasons.
Reid, a former San Francisco teammate of Kaepernick’s, recently re-signed with the Panthers for three years and more than $22 million. He noted then that he got “fair market value” after making just $1.69 million last season from the Panthers.
“If anything, it proves my point from last year,” said Reid, whose father was a three-sport star at Annapolis High and who still has a large amount of family in the area. “I didn’t sign until the (fourth) week and did for almost the league minimum. And this year I signed a more substantial contract. And nothing has changed. I’m still the same player.”
Officials with the players union said Friday afternoon that they had just learned of the settlement and had no details.
“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,” the NFLPA said in statement. “We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jonas Shaffer contributed to this article.