The Pittsburgh Steelers are doing a lot of signing and re-signing at the start of the 2019 NFL league year and another move they’ve likely recently done is worth pointing out as well. That move seems to be related to kicker Chris Boswell and the $2 million roster bonus that he’s due on the third day of the new league year.
Ian Whetstone of Steel City Insider reported Thursday on Twitter that it looks like the Steelers may have made some kind of modification to Boswell’s contract with it likely being associated to his roster bonus. He speculates the date the roster bonus is due to Boswell may have been pushed back.
Looks to me like the Steelers may have made some kind of modification to Chris Boswell's contract. It didn't affect his base salaries, but there may be a change associated with his $2 million roster bonus. Could be as simple as moving the due date, which would have been soon.
— Ian Whetstone (@IanWhetstone) March 14, 2019
Former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports also told me on Thursday that it looks like some sort of a modification was done to Boswell’s roster bonus due date as no longer does one seem to be associated with it, per NFLPA records.
The Steelers may have went to Boswell and asked the kicker to delay the due date of his roster bonus or risk being cut now. That sounds plausible based on the way Boswell performed last season and comments made by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney II this past offseason in which both indicated that there will likely be a full-blown kicker competition this year during training camp and the preseason.
If the Steelers asked Boswell to back up the date his roster bonus is due and he refused to do, and was subsequently released before it was paid to him, the Steelers would have incurred a dead money balance from his deleted contract of $4.8 million. However, with Boswell set to count $4.2 million against the team’s salary cap in 2019, the $600,000 difference would’ve been marginal.
The Steelers also could have even designated Boswell as a post June 1 release after the start of the new league year and before paying him his $2 million roster bonus. In going that route they would have eventually saved $3 million in 2019 salary cap space prior to roster displacement but incurred a dead money charge in 2020 in the amount of $3.6 million. That was a very doable option for them and would have likely been the one they chose had Boswell needed to be released now.
In short, the Steelers had a good reason to go to Boswell and ask him to delay his roster bonus and it sounds like that’s what happened. If that’s the case, Boswell will need to make the 53-man roster this year after battling in training camp and the preseason for his job. That’s some serious pressure he’ll be under if that’s the plan as he’ll be out $3 million if he gets cut before his roster bonus is earned.
At last report, Boswell, who was placed on the team’s Reserve/Injured ahead of the 2018 regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, was recovering from a grade-2 groin tear he suffered during warmups in Week 16. The former undrafted free agent kicker out of Rice is expected to be ready to kick again by the time the Steelers OTA practices get underway in May.