The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Which restricted free agents will receive tenders from the Steelers prior to the start of the new league year?
On March 14, two days from now, the 2018 league year will officially begin a 4 PM. By that time, all teams will have had to have successfully submitted all offers tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents, as well as have picked up any options in players’ contracts (excluding first-round rookie fifth-year options, which has a deadline of May 3).
As of this writing, the Steelers have five restricted free agents who have yet to be extended tenders, to the best of our knowledge, as it has not yet been reflected in their salary cap space from official sources. Two restricted free agents have already been re-signed to alternative deals, namely Roosevelt Nix and Jordan Berry.
The five remaining restricted free agents are Chris Boswell, Anthony Chickillo, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Eli Rogers, and Greg Ducre. Of the five, the only truly essential player on the list is Boswell, their kicker, who went to the Pro Bowl this past season, while the others are depth.
I think we can safely rule out Ducre being extended a restricted free agent tender, though it’s possible that he is later re-signed to a veteran-minimum deal to compete for a roster spot, since they did retain him on injured reserve all season. They have depth at cornerback, however.
Rogers is recovering from a torn ACL, and it is unlikely that he receives much attention from other teams while he recovers. He likely can be ruled out as well.
The two interesting questions are Chickillo and Toussaint, both of whom have provided valuable depth in the past. Given that the latter started last season on the practice squad, however, it’s doubtful that they think highly enough of him to extend cap space to him when it is in short supply.
Chickillo, on the other hand, has been a core special teams player and has functioned as their number three outside linebacker, making starts on both sides last year. An original-round tender for him would cost $1.907 million. A team attempting to sign him would have to forfeit a sixth-round pick.
It’s unlikely a new deal is worked out with Boswell before the start of the new league year, so he will have to be tagged as well. A Pro Bowl kicker would certainly be extended an offer sheet, however, with no penalizing compensation in return, so he will receive at least a second-round tender worth $2.914 million.