There’s no way of getting around the fact that NFL rosters are cyclical in nature. Every year at a minimum, hundreds upon hundreds of new players enter the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve and other non-active lists.
With hundreds of players drafted every year and just as many if not more coming in as undrafted free agents, it’s inevitable that some of the 2000-plus players with NFL contracts from the season before are going to lose their spots. Some teams see far more turnover than others on a regular basis.
As we get close to the draft, I want to do some risk assessment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster based on their current needs and how they have handled them in free agency, compared to how they typically go about handling their business in the draft.
Asset: K Chris Boswell
Roster Vulnerability: Medium/High
Role Vulnerability: Medium/High
When it comes to a kicker, a conversation about roster vulnerability is the same as role vulnerability, because there is only room for one, after all. And we already know that Chris Boswell’s grip on a roster spot right now is tenuous at best.
The Steelers reportedly asked Boswell to delay a $2.5 million roster bonus that likely will now only be paid to him should he make the 53-man roster. The team presumably presented him that request with the alternative being his release.
They already have one other kicker on the roster in Matt McCrane, who was one of the kickers that they brought in late in the season to compete with Boswell for his job, and whom they eventually signed to participate in the final regular season game after Boswell was injured and placed on injured reserve.
But it’s likely that the team will add another kicker to add to the competition, and it’s pretty reasonable to believe that they could invest some draft capital on the position with one of their 10 draft picks.
After all, they used a sixth-round draft pick on Colin Holba, a long snapper, in 2017, a player who ended up not making the roster. back in 2007, they traded up in the fourth round to draft punter Daniel Sepulveda. Perhaps they are due to use a draft pick on a kicker.
Ultimately, the Steelers don’t want to move on from Boswell, but they are prepared to do so should that be presented as the best option. The fourth-year kicker went from being one of the very best in the league in 2017, coming up from distance and in the clutch, to missing a total of 12 kicks, including seven of his 20 field goal attempts.
It wouldn’t be surprising in the least if they add a kicker in the draft—and they almost certainly will at least do so among the college free agents. No matter what, they are almost assuredly going to come away from the process with somebody Boswell will have to fend off to keep his job.