When the Bengals couldn't get Eric Reid in the 2013 first round at No. 21, they got Tyler Eifert.
Don’t look for a quick deal with 49ers safety Eric Reid. Or any other veteran, for that matter. At least not yet with indications the Bengals put on the brakes last month for the April 26-28 draft to focus on the prospects.
According to NFL Network Reid is to visit the Bengals in what continues to be a safety search that at first seemed a bit mystifying but is now emerging as consistent with their off-season plans. When the Bengals unsuccessfully pursued Saints safety Kurt Coleman last month, they made it clear they’re looking to generate more turnovers after last’s year’s 14 were the fewest behind only Cleveland in the NFL.
With the Bengals about $10 million over their free-agency budget and Reid coming off his option year in San Francisco at $5.6 million as an unrestricted free agent, it doesn’t seem to be a fit right now. The Bengals figure to be subtracting instead of adding and protecting next year's compensatory picks. But it’s believed they are also performing due diligence on some vets such as Reid pending what happens in the draft.
They clearly see a need back there. Vet or rookie. Their 11 interceptions this season were the second fewest under head coach Marvin Lewis when they had 10 in 2011. The starting safeties, George Iloka and Shawn Williams, had one each last season and they have combined for 15 in their combined 11 seasons. The 6-1, 213-pound Reid, has 10 career interceptions in five seasons but hasn’t matched the four he had as a rookie and has three in his last 23 games.
Reid’s visit (he spent Monday at Paul Brown Stadium) is a reprise of the weeks leading up to the 2013 draft when he came out of LSU. The Bengals had a keen eye on him and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro and were ready to draft one of them at No. 21 until the Saints took Vaccaro at 15 and the 49ers took Reid at 18.
He's clearly a Marvin Lewis kind of guy. Reid won 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s praise after he suffered a knee injury in last year’s finale. ProFootballTalk.com quoted Shanahan saying “We didn’t have anything to play for” and that he wasn’t expecting Reid to return to the game with free agency approaching. But he returned to finish the game. Reid also moved to linebacker once during his tenure to help them get through a spate of injuries.
The Bengals have already signed two UFAas in middle linebacker Preston Brown and backup quarterback Matt Barkley and signing another one puts them in jeopardy of losing a 2019 compensatory draft pick. The Bengals covet them and are looking to cash four of them in two weeks.
Reid is one of the first players to take a knee during the national anthem with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to bring attention to racial inequality and police brutality, but said last month he has no plans to continue doing it.