On Friday afternoon, the NFL and the lawyers for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid released a brief joint statement, announcing that the two parties have reached a settlement in Kaepernick and Reid’s collusion lawsuit against the league.
“In the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” the statement read. “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.”
Kaepernick sued the league in 2017 after none of the 32 teams — many of which were in need of a quarterback of Kaepernick’s caliber — offered him a contract. He argued that his decision to speak out against police brutality and institutionalized racism by taking a knee during the national anthem led to teams and the league colluding to keep him unsigned after the 2016 season.
Reid, who took a knee alongside Kaepernick during the 2016 season and kept his protest going in 2017, joined the lawsuit when he too remained unsigned weeks into the 2018 season. He was eventually signed midway through the 2018 season by the Carolina Panthers, and earlier this week, the Panthers signed him to a three-year contract.
The settlement was a surprise to many. Earlier this week, Kaepernick and Reid’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, told Adam Carolla on their podcast Reasonable Doubt that he was confident the case was going to trial, and expected the trial to happen within 45 days.
“We survived summary judgement, and frankly, I think we’ve got all the evidence we need to win,” Geragos said. “Going to trial, I think it’s a given. I have very little belief that anything will happen before that.”
The details of the settlement are completely confidential, but speculation has centered around the NFL offering Kaepernick and Reid a significant amount of money to end their suit, out of fear that information made available to the public during a trial would do irreparable danger to the league’s reputation. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman said that league insiders estimate the NFL paid Kaepernick between $60 to $80 million.
Number NFL team officials are speculating to me is the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60 to $80 million range.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) February 15, 2019
And I don’t believe Kaepernick would have settled unless the money was Earth-shaking.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) February 15, 2019
For those who believed the NFL was in fact colluding against Reid and Kaepernick, there is a hint of disappointment that the discovery process won’t become public, and the true extent of the collusion might never be known.
But the settlement itself does seem to indicate that the evidence was not in the NFL’s favor.
“I would assume that the NFL would prefer this go away, and prefer it not go to trial, and prefer to cut a check and sign some gag orders and move on with their lives, but the amount shall be astronomical,” Carolla said to Geragos on the podcast, which again, was recorded more than a week before the settlement was announced. “And there’s a certain admittance of guilt when one cuts a check, although that goes away pretty quickly. I think that gets cycled pretty quickly.”
Geragos agreed with this assessment.
“The public has very a short attention span,” Geragos said. “I think, and all of this is hypothetical, I’m going to preface this with, in any situation where you have an institution, they make certain calculations, it’s a cost/benefit analysis. Is it worth it, can we survive it … what’s the lesser of two evils?”
The NFLPA released a statement on Friday saying they support the decision by the players and their counsel, are happy that Reid has a new contract, and “continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) February 15, 2019
According to those in his camp, Kaepernick continues to work out daily, and actively wants to resume his career as an NFL quarterback.
Before the Super Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that Kaepernick would have a job in the league if teams truly thought he would help them win football games. On his podcast, Geragos dismissed this notion.
“I call bullshit on that,” Geragos said. “That’s just not true. He knows it’s not true. That might have been scripted for him, but he knows that’s ridiculous.”
Carolla followed this up by asking Geragos what he thought about Goodell as a person. Geragos did not hide his disdain for the commissioner .
“I think that he cultivates the image of a leader above the fray and to some degree they like putting him out there, because he’s got the look, if you sent to central casting, of what you’d want for the NFL, square jawed, looks like an ex-football player, blonde hair, the archetype of while America, pro football, mom and American pie,” Geragos said.
“I will tell you, based on having done a deposition of him, in real time, and the answers that were given, that image I think does not hold up. So, I don’t want to violate anything, but I will tell you, there is more substance there than the image that has been cultivated, and I don’t know if I would endorse the substance.”