Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the kicker market revving up. Pittsburgh Steelers three-year veteran kicker Chris Boswell, fresh off of a Pro Bowl season, is liking the sound of it, as well. While he is scheduled to become a restricted free agent, it is likely that the team will work out a long-term contract with him, so he and his agent are no doubt closely monitoring this offseason and watching the market set itself.
Another kicker hitting the free agent market, the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Bryant, admitted that he, too, is looking around. “Sure you do” notice when other kickers sign big deals, he said. Bryant is one of the oldest players in the NFL, soon to turn 43, but he earned over $2.7 million in 2017 on the final year of a three-year, $8.5 million deal. His career earnings are over $25 million.
Boswell, on the other hand, is just getting started. He has earned under $1.5 million to date, and there’s no question that he will earn more than that this year. Whatever new deal he signs, there’s a very good chance, unless he offers favorable terms, that it comes in at at least double that or more, annually.
The oldest player in the NFL, Adam Viniatieri, just signed a new one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts that will pay him $3.625 million for the 2018 season, which includes a $1 million signing bonus. That ranks as just the sixth-highest per-year salary, with three kickers—Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker, and Mason Crosby, in that order—making over $4 million per season.
Just recently, Ryan Succop joined the $4-million-a-year cub after re-signing with the Tennessee Titans on a five-year, $20 million deal, which includes nearly $6 million guaranteed, including a signing bonus and a fully guaranteed year-one salary.
Another prominent name is likely to fall, I think, before Boswell, as the Carolina Panthers are reportedly leaning toward applying the franchise tag to Graham Gano. That tag, according to Pro Football Focus, “projects to be $5 million”, which at least temporarily would make him the highest-paid kicker per season.
Boswell has one key trait that most of these other names do not, which is youth. Boswell is only 26 years old and entering the prime of his career. He connected on 35 of 38 field goals in 2017, with one miss being blocked, hitting four field goals from beyond 50, which ranked in the top 10 (he only attempted four). He also kicked four game-winning field goals, more than anybody else.
Perhaps the closest comparison might be the Broncos’ Brandon McManus, who is also 26. He was a restricted free agent last year, and after being given the tag, worked out a three-year contract worth $11.25 million. Boswell’s contract might very well resemble this, at least based on its per-year average value.