With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: The Steelers will sign kicker Chris Boswell to a contract extension this offseason.
Explanation: This one should be a no-brainer, hopefully. Chris Boswell is one of the best kickers in the league, and his contract only runs through the 2022 season. One would think that the Steelers want to get him signed beyond that before they have to use the franchise tag on him, which for 2022 was $5.22 million.
In 2018, the Steelers signed Boswell to a four-year, $16.8 million contract extension. That still ranks in the top 10 in kicker salaries currently, and no kicker is making more than $5 million per season, that being Justin Tucker, who has a legitimate claim to be the best kicker in the history of the game.
In other words, there’s no reason to think that it would be hard to work out terms on a contract extension for Boswell, if they were already willing to pay him $4.2 million per year four years ago. Tucker’s extension was signed in 2019, and his price tag was $5 million per season then, but he won’t be due for an extension until next year.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if, for one year, Boswell is the highest-paid kicker in NFL history, but it probably wouldn’t be much higher than $5 million per year. Which is amply reasonable for the fourth-most-accurate kicker ever.
While they may have every intention of getting Boswell under contract beyond the 2022 season, it’s not necessarily a slam dunk that they get an extension done now. For one thing, the fact that the franchise tag value is so reasonable and within the scope of where their negotiation figure would be buys them some time. Why would they need time?
Well, it could be a matter of true cashflow. Later this year, they will also have to sign Minkah Fitzpatrick to an extension, and that’s a deal that could very well include two to three years of fully-guaranteed money. Following T.J. Watt’s three-year guarantees, that’s a lot of money the Steelers’ ownership group would have to put into escrow to comply with the funding rule. They already have $44 million still in escrow for Watt for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. It might make more sense for them to wait until next year to get it done, even if they use the franchise tag to buy negotiating time.