The Panthers and the Falcons both were in the market for safety help this week.
The Falcons, who had season-ending injuries to starting strong safety Keanu Neal and free safety Ricardo Allen, elected to sign Sharrod Neasman, a reserve with the team in 2016 and 2017.
He was signed by the Saints and cut Sept. 4.
The Panthers signed Eric Reid, who started 69 games in the NFL for the 49ers, on Thursday.
Reid was one of the players who knelt with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest social and racial injustice in the nation.
The Falcons were interested in Reid over the offseason and made an offer that was denied. The team then signed defensive back Ron Parker.
“For sure, lots of guys going through the spring and summer that we were in contact with,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said when asked directly if the Falcons had contacted Reid. “That list would be long for sure. So, I won’t get into the guys we do have contact with or don’t.”
The Falcons did not contact Reid after Allen’s injury and no offer was made.
Reid, who’s 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, was selected by 49ers out of LSU in the first round (18th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft.
“Eric has been a starting safety in the NFL and has played at a high level throughout his career,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. “After we put (safety) Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve, Ron (Rivera) and I discussed our options, and Eric was at the top of our list. He is a physical safety with good ball skills and play-making ability.”
Quinn was asked Monday whether Reid’s anthem stance had anything to do with the team not pursuing him.
“No, not at all,” Quinn said. “I recognized where the question goes, but a lot of things go into that. Contractually, that’s one that goes into it with all players. But nothing from an off-the-field standpoint.”
Quinn has glowingly praised second-year free safety Damontae Kazee this week and has been lukewarm about the strong safety spot where Jordan Richards was being groomed to play near the line of scrimmage in running situation.
Other options at strong safety include Neasman, Keith Tandy, Brian Poole and Kemal Ishmael.
“As we’re heading into it now, (Keith) Tandy is one that we’re looking at, and Neasman is one that has experience doing that,” Quinn said. “Both those will have a bigger special-teams role than on the defensive side first.”
Under Quinn, the Falcons have drafted four players from LSU, including Jones, cornerback Jalen Collins, linebacker Duke Riley and wide receiver Russell Gage.
The Falcons, who defeated the Panthers 31-24 on Sept. 16, play the Panthers again Dec. 23 in Charlotte.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.