Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: Chris Boswell
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Moderate, Long-Term
Reason: Focus On Long-Term Extension
Chris Boswell would have made out well no matter what the result was of Monday’s final negotiations toward a long-term contract with running back Le’Veon Bell. Whether he signed or not, the window for negotiation would have ended, and that would shift the focus to the fourth-year kicker.
Boswell, who became the first Steelers kicker in decades last season to make the Pro Bowl, his entering his fourth season, having received a second-round restricted free agent tender, but the intention all along has been to sign him to a long-term contract.
There was even talk of wanting to do that last year as an exclusive rights free agent, which is the same thing that they did for left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, but either it never really developed or Boswell was willing to push through another season for better leverage.
He may never have better leverage than he does not, at least not before hitting the open market. But he made the Pro Bowl and set franchise records for field goals made and total points scored in a single season. He connected from 50 yards away four out of four times and hit four game-winners in the final minute, with three of them being at the final second.
It was truly a great season for him, priming him for his future, offering up a year that would be hard to duplicate when you factor everything in together, including the game-winners. He has about as big a bargaining chip as he can possible have without being on the open market.
And then you have to consider how kickers have been getting paid lately. A quick scoot over to Over the Cap shows that things have been good for them. Graham Gano and Ryan Succop signed long-term deals paying them $4 million per season or more. There are now five kickers at or above that threshold.
Under the second-round restricted free agent tender, Boswell is slated to earn just over $2.9 million this season. That’s enough of a boost from his first three seasons to tide him over he if doesn’t get the deal he wants this year, and the Steelers could franchise tag him in 2019 if necessary.