Player: Miles Boykin
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 4 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2022 Salary Cap Hit: $2,540,000
2022 Season Breakdown:
Concerned about the departure of most of the wide receiver room from the previous season—JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud all leaving in free agency—the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to bolster depth ahead of the draft.
That included claiming former day-two draft pick Miles Boykin after the Baltimore Ravens waived him, and they were willing to take on his higher Proven Performance Escalator salary of better than $2.5 million in order to carry him into the season.
And then he played 132 snaps on offense. But you know that’s not why he was here, primarily. He earned his keep on special teams, logging over 200 snaps, and established himself as a very good gunner on the punt coverage unit. He finished the season with 10 total tackles.
Yet he had all of three targets on offense with two catches for 11 yards. For a former third-round draft pick in his fourth season, that’s not exactly what you’re looking for. But the team had Diontae Johnson and rookie George Pickens, plus Chase Claypool for the first half of the year.
After the Claypool trade, Boykin’s playing time did increase, logging double-digit sacks in most games after the bye. But he often served as a decoy or even a blocker. He is the sort of player who does a lot of what they call the ‘dirty work’, the unglamorous assignments that need to be done but which don’t attract attention.
Free Agency Outlook:
There’s no reason to think the Steelers wouldn’t be interested in continuing their business relationship with Boykin. He’s unlikely to have much of a market and would probably be retained on a veteran minimum deal to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster.
The wide receiver room at the moment consists of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Gunner Olszewski, Cody White, and Anthony Miller as experienced veterans under contract. 2022 rookie Calvin Austin III will be looking to make his debut after missing the year due to injury.
Steven Sims is a restricted free agent who could return as well, though perhaps not with a restricted free agent tender. They also have Ja’Marcus Bradley, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Dan Chisena signed to Reserve/Future contracts, but this group should not impact Pittsburgh’s interest in Boykin.
The biggest question is whether or not the team envisions Boykin potentially having a larger role on offense, or if they see him as the next Darrius Heyward-Bey in terms of his functioning as a special teamer and as a blocker offensively. Even assuming that he does get re-signed, he will still have to earn his way onto the 53-man roster.