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Escalator clause gives Panthers safety Tre Boston huge bump in salary

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston will more than double his pay in 2017 based on playing time in his first three seasons.

Boston’s salary jumped from around $791,000 to $1,898,367, an increase triggered by a Proven Performance Escalator written into the 2011 collective bargaining agreement for players drafted between rounds 3-7.

Boston was a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina in 2014.

The escalator goes into effect for playing in at least 35 percent of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of the player’s first three seasons or more than 35 percent of the snaps over the first three years.

Boston started 10 of 15 games last season and has started 16 of 42 games in three years. That’s 38 percent of his starts for three years and 57.6 percent in years one and three of his rookie deal.

The new CBS says players who activate the escalator will be bumped to the amount of a right of first refusal tender ($1.79 million).

Add that to the existing $101,367 of signing bonus proration and Boston has a 2017 cap number of $1,898,367.

To put that into perspective, Boston’s initial rookie deal was four years for a total of $2,625,468, an average of $656,367 per year.

Boston is the second Carolina defensive tack in the past three years to receive a big bump. Cornerback Josh Norman got a 59-percent increase to $1,542,000 in 2015 based on playing time.

Boston is penciled in as a starting free safety opposite strong safety Kurt Coleman. But the Panthers are in the market to upgrade the position either in free agency or the draft.

Dallas safety Barry Church, 29, is a potential candidate for Carolina when free agency begins at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Church recently told a Dallas radio station that money and a team that can compete for a title are priorities.

He is believed to be seeking in the neighborhood of $6 million a year.

The Panthers already have committed $3,650,000 to the 2017 salary cap in Coleman. That figure will jump to $5,250,000 in 2018.

Boston was placed on injured reserve for the 2016 season finale because of a knee injury. His role was diminished to more third-down situations in early October because the Panthers wanted to get more physical in the run game.

Those snaps went to Colin Jones and Michael Griffin. The Panthers signed Jones to a two-year, $2.4 million deal on Tuesday.

For argument's sake, what would happen if the Panthers signed a player like Church and/or selected a safety in a safety-strong draft? Would Boston become expendable?

He could if general manager Dave Gettleman wanted more cap room. Releasing Boston would clear $1,838,000 million in space.