Even with the addition of Derwin James, should the Chargers try and bring back Tre Boston?
Free safety Tre Boston was surprisingly let go by the Carolina Panthers, the team he spent three years with, just days after the 2017 NFL Draft.
The 2014 fourth-round pick quickly found a home in Los Angeles, signing a one-year deal with the Chargers. Boston replaced Dwight Lowery, a 16-game starter at free safety for the Bolts the season before. Lowery was cut prior to the start of the 2017 season and never found another job.
Fast forward to right now, and Boston is currently unemployed. It’s a bit strange because Boston is coming off a career year. He started all but one game and finished with 79 total tackles, eight pass deflections and five interceptions. He brought a ton of energy to a defense that finally found its swag.
It made sense for the Chargers to bring Boston back since there would have been a void at free safety if he departed. But the Chargers didn’t want to pay him the money that he wanted. It appears as if no team wants to pay any safety big money. Not only does Boston, who recently turned down an offer from the Arizona Cardinals, remain unsigned, but players like Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Mike Mitchell, Tyvon Branch and T.J. Ward are also still on the market. Even Tyrann Mathieu, who is considered one of the best safeties in the league, settled for a one-year, $7 million deal with the Houston Texans. Instead of dishing out money for a long-term contract, the Chargers signed former Eagles corner/safety Jaylen Watkins, another 2014 fourth-rounder, to a one-year deal and will have him compete for a role on defense.
Yeah, that seemed risky. But then came the 2018 NFL Draft, where safety Derwin James fell right into the Chargers’ lap. He filled a hole and was incredible value at No. 17 overall.
James is a Day 1 starter. The question is, where will the Chargers play him? Many penciled him at free safety opposite starting strong safety Jahleel Addae, who finally stayed healthy and had an underrated season.
But according to ESPN’s Eric D. Williams, James has been working in at strong safety during offseason work. Meanwhile, 2017 fourth-rounder Rayshawn Jenkins and Addae saw time at free safety at minicamp. Based off their skill sets, both are better suited at strong safety until proven otherwise, which makes lack of depth at the free safety position a bit of a concern.
James has the versatility to play several positions on defense. Getting him on the field and having him make plays regardless of where he starts is likely the goal. But if the Chargers view James as a better fit near the line of scrimmage, finding a ball-hawking free safety could be in the cards. You know, someone like Boston.
Boston already knows the system and thrived in it. He’s still young at 26 years old, too. It’s pretty evident that he’s not going to cost much. Will the Chargers give him a call? It seems unlikely, especially with James now wearing Boston’s No. 33 jersey.
But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to at least consider re-signing Boston if he were to settle for a bit less than what he originally wanted.