With short-lived free agent target Morgan Burnett off the board, the Chicago Bears are still in the market to add some youthful experience to their secondary.
One name we might need to keep an eye on is Eric Reid, who has five years of experience under his belt with the San Francisco 49ers and won’t turn 27 until December. Oh, and he also played at a Pro Bowl level as a rookie in 2013 while in Vic Fangio’s scheme and followed that up with a solid second season in San Francisco.
Sure, Reid hasn’t received much interest on the open market just yet, but he’s a proven producer who seems to have a few prime years left in the tank. And as far as Andy Benoit of SI.com’s The MMQB is concerned, teams are making a mistake by overlooking the talented safety.
“He’s experienced as a free safety, box safety, matchup safety, slot corner and linebacker,” Benoit writes regarding Reid’s skills and versatility. “He’s a hitter who can also cover, both man and zone. He’s shown instinctive playmaking prowess. In no sane world is Eric Reid a backup.
“Versatile safeties like Reid are more important now than ever, which is why this year’s soft free-agent market at the position is so perplexing. More and more teams are putting three safeties on the field, adding flexibility to their nickel and dime sub-packages and gaining answers for offenses that run the ball out of three-receiver sets.”
To that end, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski notes that offenses used “11” personnel (one running back, one tight end, three receivers) on 57 percent of plays. It’s the most-used grouping in the league, which helps prove Benoit’s point regarding Reid’s value.
So what gives? Why isn’t Reid already on a team?
Well, as Benoit points out, Reid took a knee during the national anthem in 2017 in an attempt to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice. And Reid has not been shy in expressing his belief that his frozen market is a response from owners because of his protests. If this feels like a second-coming of the Colin Kaepernick situation, I understand where you are coming from, but Reid is also a better player right now than Kaepernick, and as we mentioned above, is a more valuable and versatile asset to a team.
Of course, the Bears are pretty set at the position with Adrian Amos (who graded out as the league’s top free safety) and 2017 fourth-round draft pick Eddie Jackson as starters. But what Chicago doesn’t have at the position is depth, nor does the team have the kind of defensive back who is a Swiss Army knife type who can fill multiple roles at the same time. Because he can be used as a safety, slot corner, and linebacker, Reid comes with additional value that isn’t easily accounted for when breaking down a player.
Perhaps the safety market will get moving now that Burnett and Tyrann Mathieu have found new homes. And if the Bears were interested in Burnett, it might not be out of the realm of possibilities that they are also interested in a player who thrived under their defensive coordinator. There haven’t been any concrete rumors connecting the two, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Bears jumped in and made a move at the right time.