Every year free safety Tre Boston seems to hit the free agent market. And every year the Dallas Cowboys show exactly zero interest, despite passionate pleas from the fanbase and local media. It’s become such a futile and redundant offseason activity, it’s almost comical.
After inking a three-year $18 million deal last offseason with the Carolina Panthers, it seemed Tre Boston-to-Dallas was officially dead and Cowboys Nation would have to find a new chronically underrated free agent to champion in future off-seasons.
That was until Carolina cut Boston, that is.
There are a couple factors at play that could lead Tre Boston to the Dallas Cowboys
So here we go. Let’s make our case, for old time sake, that Tre Boston belongs with the Dallas Cowboys. Will they finally listen? Perhaps.
With Xavier Woods set to hit free agency, the free safety spot is finally open. If you’ll remember, in years past, our annual pitch to sign Tre involved moving Woods inside to play more in-the-box like he did his rookie year.
So with Woods now on his way out and Donovan Wilson locked in as the strong safety, Tre Boston finally fits the Dallas Cowboys roster needs.
Those that remember, Tre Boston has a long track record of playing centerfield in Cover 1 and Cover 3 systems. As the ballhawk in the middle he’s tasked with taking the middle of the field away and covering large amounts of territory from number to number. As many know, Dallas employs this very scheme making Boston an ideal fit in Dan Quinn’s system.
Over the years, Tre’s been pretty darn good in this role too. From 2017-2019 Boston logged 10 interceptions and 14 pass deflections, earning him PFF ratings of 14th, 24th, and 14th (out of roughly 90) respectively.
So if he was so good why did he always have such a problem getting deals?
That’s a tough question to definitively answer. But the best guess is maybe the easiest – Tre Boston is kind of a one-trick pony. Boston, like a certain guy named Earl Thomas, is single high expert but not as proficient in other coverages. He’s not a great tackler nor exceptionally versatile in scheme, therefore the market has always been automatically reduced to only single high teams.
If he’s so good why did he get cut?
Tre was cut for a couple reasons: 1) Carolina wanted to open up money and with budding young talents developing behind him on the roster, it made sense to cut the veteran. 2) Carolina stopped playing single high Cover 1.
Carolina had a philosophical change to their defense last season and became arguably the most conservative defense in the league. According to Matt Bowen at ESPN, the Panthers were playing just 19.5% snaps of Cover 1 (second lowest in the NFL). So they paid him to do one thing but then flipped the script and asked him to do like someone else.
The stats support the idea as well. In 2019, when he was rated as one of the top free safeties in the league, his average depth of target when targeted was 15.2 yards. That’s deep. Now compare it to last season when his average depth was just 7.6 and you can see he had a fundamental change in his role . Clearly the Panthers were playing Boston much closer to the line of scrimmage last year which is a departure from his expertise.
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It’s not overly surprising last year was Tre Boston’s worst rated season of his career – He played over half of his snaps inside the box and in the slot. But only one year ago the 28-year-old was one of the top single high safeties in the league and if that’s what the Dallas Cowboys are going back to, it stands to reason he’d be a good fit in that role once again.
The Dallas Cowboys should be able to sign him to a bargain basement deal based on his struggles last season and limited market. And they may actually be interested this time around because for once they consider themselves in the market for a free safety.
Is this finally the year the Dallas Cowboys sign Tre Boston? We’ll see…