Thoughts on Tre Boston's departure and what's next

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CHARLOTTE – After three up-and-down seasons, the Panthers decided it was best to part ways with safety Tre Boston.

Boston, drafted out of North Carolina in the fourth round in 2014, struggled with consistency during his tenure with the Panthers and never managed to secure a full-time role on the defense.

The Panthers explored opportunities to trade Boston during the draft, and though there was interest, nothing materialized. They were intrigued by several safeties in the 2017 draft class, but it wasn't in the cards with the way the board fell.

Boston's rookie season got off to a tough start when he missed five games with a groin injury. He eventually got a chance to contribute, starting five games and recording his first career interception and returning it for an 84-yard touchdown in a division-clinching win over Atlanta in the season finale.

Boston entered the 2015 season as the leading candidate at free safety, but veteran addition Kurt Coleman beat him out for the starting spot in training camp.

In 2016, with Roman Harper off to New Orleans, Boston entered the season as the starter alongside Coleman. But the coaching staff later decided to get veteran Michael Griffin more involved.

Boston started 10 of the 15 games he played last season. He finished with 50 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defensed and two sacks.

The Panthers decided to move on from Boston to give him ample time to latch on with another team and because they want to take a hard look at other options on the roster.

Two-time Pro Bowler Mike Adams, the 13-year veteran who signed earlier this offseason, is penciled in as the starter alongside Coleman.

Beyond Adams, the Panthers are eager to see how L.J. McCray performs after flashing potential at his previous stop with the 49ers. McCray played in 22 games and recorded 14 special teams tackles in 2014 and 2015. A knee injury ended his 2015 season, and he did not play in 2016, but he's in position to contribute 18 months following the injury.

The Panthers have been intrigued by Dean Marlowe ever since adding him as a priority undrafted free agent in 2015. He could be a factor if he stays healthy. He played just one game in 2016 after a hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve.

Carolina also likes Brian Blechen, a practice squad member each of the last two years. After beefing up to start his NFL career as a linebacker, the Panthers instructed him to lose weight so he could compete at safety – the position he played in college.

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