There’s a starting-caliber NFL safety in his mid-20s with a history of social activism who – not coincidentally – remains on the market more than a month after free agency started.
Former 49ers safety Eric Reid, one of the first players to join Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest in 2016, is still unsigned.
But so too is former Panthers safety Tre Boston, who was fairly outspoken – especially by Panthers standards – two years ago following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte police officer.
Boston talked on social media and with reporters about coming up with a team-wide show of unity and love amid the violent protests that erupted in Charlotte following the Scott shooting. (Marcus Ball, another then-Panthers defensive back, was cut not long after raising his fist during the national anthem.)
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Boston, who lives in Charlotte during the offseason, isn’t sure his public stance two years ago is the reason he’s unemployed. But he’s had a hard time coming up with any other reasons.
“I have no idea. But if I told you there’s a 25-year-old out there, no nagging injuries, no off-field issues, 10 career picks, 180 tackles-plus, three sacks, what would you tell me?” Boston said Monday during an appearance at a celebrity golf tournament in south Charlotte.
“I don’t know. I can’t say what upstairs is thinking,” he added. “But I know I have the stats and the numbers to play with the best of them. So for me it’s just being patient. Things are gonna happen.”
Boston, Carolina’s fourth-round pick in 2014 out of North Carolina, started parts of three seasons for the Panthers before he was waived last May.
He signed a one-year deal with the Chargers and posted career highs with 15 starts, five interceptions and eight pass breakups. He was tied for fifth in the NFL in interceptions.
“I’ve only started one year and I’ve got the same stats as some of the best,” Boston said.
Boston said he talked with Carolina’s front office about returning to the Panthers, although those conversations didn’t get very far.
“Knowing how they do business, they’re a big front-seven team. Don’t put a lot of value into the DBs,” he said. “It’s just what they’ve done over the years. They kind of want to stick with that and I respected that.”
So like Reid, Boston will continue to play the waiting game – a process that likely will drag on past next week’s draft.