If he can bolster the secondary, then that could overshadow much of the attention that came when he was signed during the team's open week. He'll be in a Panthers uniform for the first time in Sunday afternoon's game against the visiting New York Giants.
"Eric is a smart player," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He has shown that he's picking it up very quickly."
Reid's arrival as a free-agent signing caught many off guard, including some of his former teammates. His role in national anthem protests along with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick might have led some teams to shy away.
The Panthers, under new owner David Tepper, were willing to take a risk. That comes because they have a vision of what he can contribute in games.
Reid also has an ongoing grievance filed against the NFL alleging collusion to keep him out of the league.
Other than Reid's on-field experience, there are clear reasons why he's seen as a valuable addition to the roster. His presence also could aid in better rushing defense because he's known for a physical style.
"That's right up our alley in terms of the priority to stop the run first," defensive coordinator Eric Washington said.
Reid doesn't arrive with a one-dimensional reputation. The Panthers have already hinted that they'll be willing to use him in numerous situations.
"It gives us position flexibility with him," Rivera said. "Once he learns and understands the (system), I think you get another field general back there."
Several Carolina players noted that Reid appears bulked up to nearly the size of a linebacker. He already had been considered the type of defensive player who can deliver some pop on his hits.
Perhaps because Reid wasn't sure where his next opportunity would come, he seems ready to take full advantage of his new surroundings.
"We actually use some of the terminology I used in college so that was exciting for me, kind of made the transition easier," he said. "I'm just excited to be back on the field."
Reid, 26, said his workouts while he was without a team were serious, but he expects there to be an adjustment after missing game action.
"It's nothing like being on the field taking on blocks, chasing after fast guys," Reid said. "So trying to get my conditioning up and then just helping the team. Hopefully I can make some plays, put us in a good position to win games. That's the main goal."
Reid posted 10 interceptions in five seasons with San Francisco.
The Panthers (2-1) don't need distractions. They have some mojo going as they aim to extend their seven-game home winning streak.
SERIES HISTORY: 10th regular-season meeting. Panthers lead series, 5-4. The teams haven't met since 2015. The teams are 2-2 in games in Charlotte. The Panthers won the lone postseason matchup with a 2005 wild-card clash at the Meadowlands.