Tre Boston implies NFL colluded against safeties to disguise Eric Reid blackballing

One of the major storylines of the 2018 NFL offseason has been the depressed safety market. Quality starters sat on the market for months, with some of them only being signed very recently -- and even then, only after injuries during training camp. Tyrann Mathieu got $7 million for one year with the Texans, while Kurt Coleman got a decent-sized deal to leave the Panthers for the Saints and the same is true of Morgan Burnett, who left the Packers for the Steelers; but every single other safety signed for $4 million per year or less. 

And that's despite some of the better safeties in football hitting free agency. Kenny Vaccaro, coming off his best season, didn't sign until last week, and he got just $1.5 million for one year from the Titans, who lost Jonathan Cyprien for the year. Tre Boston signed with the Cardinals for the same amount just a couple weeks ago. Vaccaro is 27 and is coming off a good season during which he made $5.7 million on his fifth-year option. Boston is 26 and played well for the Chargers, who decided to let him walk and draft Derwin James to take his place. But an above-average (at worst) safety should expect significantly more than $1.5 million for one year on the open market. 

Boston, for his part, is miffed about the results of the offseason. 

"How did we get to a point where this is what we were worth?" Boston said in a recent story by The Ringer. "You can put my stats up against some of the best of them you're gonna get me in the $7 million-plus range. It's crazy that people aren't really talking about how we managed to get paid less than $2 million."

But even though he didn't come right out and say it, Boston thinks he knows exactly what happened here. "It's right in front of our eyes," he says. "Somebody's got to call a spade a spade."

What's he referring to? "People have to think beyond just one person," Boston said. "How are you going to look at a whole market if you sign everybody and one person is left? You don't put yourself in that predicament. You devalue the whole market."

Boston, clearly, is referring to the fact that one of the remaining unsigned safeties is former 49ers safety Eric Reid, who was among the first players to kneel in protest of police brutality and systemic racism during the national anthem. Boston's implying that teams have decided to artificially depress the safety market so that quality players of Reid's caliber would also remain unsigned, so that it does not look like Reid is being blackballed for taking a stand. 

"Last year, [there were] three highly paid safeties," Boston said, with Mays noting that he was alluding to Eric Berry, Kam Chancellor, and Reshad Jones. "It was the highest our market has ever been. And then it just flops this year. It's the first year any top-five group of free agents has waited into training camp. And a week into camp two of the top five sign. It's just obvious [what the reasoning is]. I don't understand why the questions are even there."

As of this writing, the 26-year-old Reid, who is coming off a season where he recorded 66 tackles, four passes defenses, and two interceptions in 13 games, remains unsigned. Like his former teammate, Colin Kaepernick, he has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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