Tre Boston knows the Cardinals a little bit, something he wasn't shy to remind the media Friday following the team's conditioning test – noting he came up with interceptions in the playoffs against the Cards while playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2014 and 2015.
"I just wanted to let you know I had two game-winning picks, both years," Boston said with a smile.
To be fair, both interceptions came late with the games all but decided in Carolina's favor. But the point was made by the Cards' safety that he thinks this defense can perform a lot like those Panthers' defenses – of which new Cardinals coach Steve Wilks was a large part.
"(Tre) has our DNA," Wilks said, after Boston officially signed his one-year contract with the Cardinals earlier in the day. "He'll fit in our locker room and fit well with Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker back there."
To make room on the roster, the Cardinals released defensive end Moubarak Djeri, signed in the offseason after playing in Germany.
Boston is an intriguing move, given his age (26), the fact he is coming off his best season (five interceptions) and that he played for Wilks for three seasons in Carolina before the Panthers cut him after the 2016 season. He played for the Los Angeles Chargers last year, and after a big season, expected a big contract.
The safety market never materialized. Boston isn't the only high-profile safety who sat all offseason – Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro remain unsigned.
"I know everybody kind of sees what was going on," Boston said. "You can't complain about life. You have to play the cards that are dealt to you. Fortunately I'm in a position where I can play in a system I've played in before so I can come in, learn quickly, get back to who I used to be and who I am. Everybody knows the stats I put up last year. Put them up two times, they can't deny me next year."
The Cards had been looking at Boston since early in free agency, and brought him in for a visit in the spring. Boston later said in a June radio interview the Cards had "rolled out the red carpet" for him but admitted he had been disappointed in the initial contract offer. The deal he signed is reportedly worth $1.5 million with incentives that can get him to $3 million.
"(The relationship) wasn't so sour, (but) it was something I felt needed to be addressed," Boston said. "As a unit, understanding what the league was doing to a few of us safeties. For me, it is what it is. I can't get paid on the sideline. I can't get paid at home."
Wilks said Boston will initially be the free safety, with Bethea at strong safety and Baker at the nickel. Boston noted that he and Bethea, as veterans, can be interchangeable. Given a secondary that also includes Patrick Peterson, Boston said he thinks he can be the "last piece of the puzzle" with the defensive backs.
"I had coaches who knew me, (the head) coach willing to go to bat for me that I knew pretty well, so It intrigued me to come here, play ball and do what it takes," Boston said right after he signed his contract. "It means a lot. These are guys who know my character and know my play. I'm back with them and you want to prove that they were right."