The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a lot of business to attend to this offseason, meaning a lot of decisions that need to be made. Several of them will have to come before the start of the new league year, or if not, very soon after.
The fact that Bud Dupree’s fifth-year option is set to become fully guaranteed on the first day of the new league year in March is common knowledge. The Steelers would have to release him in order to get out from under a $9 million-plus price tag.
We also know all about Antonio Brown’s pending $2.5 million signing bonus that comes into play a few days into the league year. Ordinarily this wouldn’t even be worth mentioning for a perennial Pro Bowler, but, well, I don’t think I have to explain why.
There is another roster bonus that isn’t being talked about much, however, and that is for kicker Chris Boswell. He will be due a roster bonus of $2 million near the start of the new league year, and the Steelers don’t know if they even want to keep him.
But indications are that they are probably willing to pay the $2 million price tag to find out. Art Rooney II, for example, talked about how they expect to bring in competition for Boswell. He would need to be on the roster in order to compete.
Boswell missed quite a few kicks last season after making the Pro Bowl in 2017 in a great year that featured several game-winners and four makes from 50 yards or beyond. The Steelers signed him to one of the largest kicker contracts ever after that.
While he did throw a touchdown pass in 2018, he also missed seven of 20 field goal attempts, and another five extra point attempts. It even got to a point where the Steelers brought in kickers to compete with him, but they decided that he has ‘won’ the job again.
It isn’t feasible for the Steelers to release and re-sign him because of the accelerated money. If they were to release him without making him a post-June cut, it would add $600,000 to his cap hit, though they would save $3 million as a post-June cut, which would add dead money to 2020.
In other words, it’s quite possible that the Steelers will pay Boswell $2 million this season in real cash without him being on the roster. It’s unlikely at this point that we will see them release him, even as a post-June cut, prior to his roster bonus coming due. But of course if the Steelers had structured his contract differently—say, a larger signing bonus—he would have already gotten that money.