While the Pittsburgh Steelers have never really had to deal with the crazy year-to-year inconsistency in personnel and performance that they dealt with at the punter position before finding Jordan Berry, the events immediately leading up to their unearthing of Chris Boswell at kicker certainly helps to highlight how important he has been to the team since joining them.
As a quick recap of said events, Pittsburgh felt that it had its (relatively) long-term answer in Shaun Suisham, signing him to an extension, but he suffered a torn ACL during the preseason opener in 2015, and it proved to be career-ending.
Hoping to find a veteran replacement in the middle of the preseason, the Steelers scooped up Garrett Hartley, who honestly probably would have been a reasonable option, except that he suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on injured reserve.
So desperate they became that they decided to deal a sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Josh Scobee, a former Pro Bowler. He lasted four games into the season before he was released for missing half of his eight field-goal attempts, including a pair of potential game-winners against the Baltimore Ravens in an overtime loss.
Boswell was selected from a number of tryout candidates, the same way that Hartley was chosen. Only Boswell didn’t have any in-game experience. A first-year (not rookie) former undrafted free agent, had failed to make a 53-man roster in his first two attempts. He was unproven. Unsculpted clay.
Over the past three years, he has been molded into a Pro Bowler himself, the first Steelers kicker to earn Pro Bowl recognition since Gary Anderson in 1993, his third of three Pro Bowl appearances in Pittsburgh. Roy Gerela and Mike Clark are the only other Pro Bowl kickers in team history.
He connected 35 of 38 field goals in 2017, the most made field goals in a season in team history, and also set the new single-season scoring record for the team, while booting four field goals that gave them the lead with under a minute to play, three of which came with no time left.
He is currently under a second-round restricted free agent tender, but as Gerry Dulac noted in a recent chat, the Steelers “have been wanting to do a longer deal since last year”. He added, “I think you will see that happen soon”.
How soon is soon? Who knows? Extensions typically happen in training camp or thereabouts, but it would certainly behoove them to get him signed long-term now rather than potentially risk losing him on the open market in 2019 or have to give him the franchise tag.
For what it’s worth, Bob Labriola was less certain that Boswell will receive an extension. He said he would expect there to be interest, but did not give the impression that he believed a deal was imminent. As we saw this offseason, though, the kicker market is already on the rise, and Pro Bowlers will likely get paid.
As always, I hope that readers know to take reports like this that come from a chat with a grain of salt. Some things are notable enough to pass along, but don’t necessarily deserve to be treated as something substantial.