The Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of contracts that they were working on late last offseason, and the big one trying to get something done with running back Le’Veon Bell tied up quite a bit of time. Then there was Alejandro Villanueva, who was not even under contract. And then when that one was done, the big one that actually got done with Stephon Tuitt went down almost to the wire.
That didn’t leave them a great deal of time to work out a new contract for their kicker, Chris Boswell, even though it is something that they were hoping to get done. While of course they are able to work on more than one deal at a time, it does slow down the process, especially since you have to know how one deal affects the cap and how that impacts other potential deals.
Pittsburgh was hoping to lock up Boswell early in spite of the fact that he was only heading into his third season and had only kicked for something like 27 games at that point. As an exclusive rights free agent, he was under easy control, but Villanueva was too and they got a deal done.
So Boswell played the 2017 season under the exclusive rights tag and he merely went out and set franchise records while becoming the first Steelers kicker in decades to make the Pro Bowl. That certainly raises his price tag somewhat, though even now, he is only slated to be a restricted free agent.
Boswell was good on 35 of 38 field goals during the 2017 season, the most successful makes by a Steelers kicker in team history. That combined with his extra points resulted in giving him the highest-scoring individual season by any player in team history.
In addition to that, he was also perfect on all four of his field goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond, although his longest field goal was ‘only’ from 53 yards. No Steelers kicker has every come particularly close to 60 yards, the longest being 55 yards, first hit by Gary Anderson in 1984 and then Kris Brown in 2001.
On top of those accolades, he also tied an NFL record—to the best of my knowledge, in full disclosure—for the most game-winning field goals in the final minute of a game in a single season, having done so in four games, all of them coming in bunches. One of them was the 53-yarder that he made.
Boswell has made 85 of his 95 career field goal attempts during the regular season for the Steelers in 43 games, posting a success rate of 89.5, which is the best in team history, edging out Shaun Suisham by about a percentage point and a half. It is currently the second-best average in NFL history, behind Justin Tucker, the only kicker (with at least 100 attempts; Boswell is not there yet) to average 90 percent or better.