Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: K Chris Boswell
Stock Value: Up
Obviously, there’s been nothing for Boswell to do to directly increase his stock over the summer months. And there’s no further place for him to ascend on the Steelers’ depth chart. His spot is as firmly entrenched as anyone else’s on this roster. His stock is up today in anticipation of what’s to come, like the next big tech company that’s about to go public. Bright days are ahead.
What’s to come is a fat contract that should make him the league’s highest-paid kicker – for now, anyway. Lost in the discussion about Minkah Fitzpatrick’s extension, a box that can now thankfully be checked, and debate over Diontae Johnson’s future is Boswell’s status. 2022 is the last year of his previous contract extension, and it’d be foolish for Pittsburgh to let Boswell get his leg anywhere near free agency.
Boswell is expected to surpass Justin Tucker as the #1 paid kicker in the league, though Tucker’s next deal will top that. Boswell’s pending temporary #1 status. He’s been money over the last three seasons, going 84/91 on field goals (92.3%). Kickers have gotten far more accurate over the years, making comparisons tricky, but he’s the most accurate kicker in team history. Here’s the top five (minimum 50 career attempts):
Highest FG %, Steelers’ History
1. Chris Boswell: 88.3%
2. Shaun Suisham: 87.9%
3. Norm Johnson: 82.7%
4. Jeff Reed: 81.9%
5. Gary Anderson: 78.2%
Quick shoutout to Norm Johnson for still being the third-most accurate kicker in team history even after spending his time with the team in the mid-late 90s. Johnson was the league’s third-most accurate kicker over the 90s decade, trailing only Nick Lowery and John Carney.
Back to Boz. His payday will come soon and maybe earlier than you think. There’s a good chance this won’t be a right-before-Week 1 kind of situation, especially given Omar Khan’s urgency on locking up Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s possible that Boswell is signed on July 26th, the day the team reports to training camp. Even Kevin Colbert had his fair share of early-camp signings. Alejandro Villanueva was one of them, towering over a college desk. Getting Boswell done immediately gives the team the rest of camp to try and hammer out a deal with Johnson, though the odds of an extension being secured are diminishing.
Boswell will enter the summer a free-agent-to-be, but he won’t exit as one. The only concern is that Boswell’s 2022 season off a new deal goes far better than the last one, 2018, where he struggled the entire season and was nearly cut before bouncing back in 2019.