The Carolina Panthers have informed veteran free safety Tre Boston of his release, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Boston had two years remaining on a three-year, $18 million deal he signed in March of 2020. Boston received more than half of that contract, as about $9.5 million was paid out during the first year of the deal.
Boston has played seven NFL seasons, including the first three (2014-16) with the Panthers. The three-year deal came after he had returned to the Panthers before the start of the 2019 season following two seasons away (Chargers, Cardinals). Boston started in all 16 games in 2019, recording three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Last season, Boston again started in all 16 games while setting a career high with 95 tackles. He also recovered two fumbles while recording one interception with four pass breakups.
The Panthers' fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Boston made five starts as a rookie before helping Carolina capture the NFC title in a backup role in 2015. He became a full-time starter in 2016, recording two interceptions and seven pass breakups that season. Boston then spent one season with the Chargers, where he recorded a career-high five interceptions. He spent an additional year with the Cardinals before re-signing with Carolina just before the start of the 2019 season.
Boston, who will be 29 years old before the start of the 2021 season, has made 76 starts in 104 regular season games. He has 15 career interceptions, 42 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 429 tackles and 15 tackles for loss. He has also recorded two interceptions in five career playoff games. Boston has proven to be incredibly durable; he played in 98% of the Panthers' defensive snaps in 2020. He played in each of Carolina's defensive snaps in 2019.
The Panthers likely deemed Boston expendable with the emergence of 2020 second-round pick Jeremy Chinn. In 15 games last season, Chinn tallied 117 tackles while returning both of his fumble recoveries for touchdowns. Chinn was part of an all-defensive Panthers draft that also included defensive tackle Derrick Brown, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, and defensive back Troy Pride Jr.
Carolina is expected to spent their first-round pick in the 2021 draft on a quarterback. CBS Sports draft analysts Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso have the Panthers selecting former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the eighth overall pick. Fellow analyst Josh Edwards has the Panthers selecting former North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.