Immediately after the Pittsburgh Steelers failed to come to terms on a long-term contract extension with running back Le’Veon Bell, I wrote about how the organization could now turn their focus to kicker Chris Boswell and a getting a long-term deal done with him during training camp. While Boswell said upon arriving in Latrobe for this year’s training camp that contract negotiations between his agent and the Steelers have not begun this summer, he did admit “that could change in the next couple of days,” according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Honestly, it’s out of my hands,” Boswell said Thursday. “I’m signed on for this year. I’m going to play this year. Whatever they want to do is up to them. I just have to kind of ride it out. Either way, I’m going to come out here and do what I can do every day to get better. The rest will take care of itself.”
The rest will indeed take care of itself and it will be a surprise if it doesn’t. Boswell, who was issued a one-year $2.914 million second-round restricted free agent tender earlier this offseason, has since signed it and the only real mystery at this, in my opinion, is whether or not he exits training camp as one of the league’s top two highest paid kickers. Obviously, Boswell knows who the highest paid kickers in the NFL right now and where he ranks league-wide. He also knows that teams around the league value kickers at various degrees.
“There is definitely a big jump from the highest paid to the average kicker in the league,” Boswell said, according to Fittipaldo. “And not just average based on skill, just based on salary. It’s based on what teams feel like is important. Some teams … they’re not going to pay the top kicker. They’ll let him walk and go find someone else. Gostkowski has been kicking big-time kicks forever. He’s the best big kicker in the league. It’s just based on the team and what they feel is important.”
This past March the Carolina Panthers reportedly signed kicker Graham Gano to a four-year $17 million contract of which $8 million was apparently fully guaranteed. His new yearly average of $4.25 million now makes him the second-highest-paid kicker in the league behind only Stephen Gostkowski ($4.3M) of the New England Patriots. Because of that, one could easily speculate that Boswell will be aiming for a deal north of Gano’s and one that perhaps would make him the highest-paid kicker in the NFL.
Boswell, who was a Pro Bowler last season, made 92.1 percent of his field goal attempts during the 2017 regular season while missing just two extra point attempts. He now has an 89.5% career field goal conversion rate and only three other kickers in NFL history have posted a higher rate in a player’s first 3 years and a minimum of 90 total attempts.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, should the Steelers and Boswell fail to come to terms on a new deal between now and the start of the regular season the former undrafted free agent out of Rice product will then be in line to potentially receive the franchise tag by the start of the 2019 league year in March. The Steelers have used the franchise tag on a kicker before as Jeff Reed received it in 2010. After receiving it, however, the two sides failed to work out a new deal and Reed ultimately was released that November after struggling with his reliability throughout the season.
Boswell has been the Steelers since 2015 he was signed ahead the team’s Week 5 game to replace kicker Josh Scobee.