Turns out, one team’s proverbial trash is another team’s treasure.
That was the case during the 2022 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Miles Boykin, whom the Baltimore Ravens surprisingly waived in April 2022. The Steelers, obviously, put in a claim and landed a big, physical receiver that they liked in the 2019 NFL Draft before ultimately seeing him be selected by the AFC North rival Ravens.
After a one-year tour in Pittsburgh that involved a high number of snaps on special teams but very few on offense, Boykin is hoping to remain in the Steel City moving forward as he enters free agency, he stated to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski.
“I am grateful for ending up here in a lot of ways,” Boykin said, according to original reporting via Adamski for the Tribune-Review. “The adversity we faced this season as a team just taught me so much about my career and just football in general. The past 12 months have been nothing but great for me.
“…if everything works out on both sides, I would love to be back here. We will just have to wait and see.”
Though he struggled to live up to his potential in Baltimore in the Ravens’ run-heavy scheme, Boykin found the end zone a ton in Baltimore, scoring seven touchdowns on just 33 career receptions.
In Pittsburgh, Boykin didn’t get much of a shot as a true receiver in 2022, serving as more of a special teams ace for the black and gold behind the likes of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Chase Claypool and Steven Sims before Claypool was traded to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick.
Despite the lack of work as a true receiver, Boykin really found a role in the NFL as a standout gunner on kick and punt coverages, being a vital piece of the Steelers’ special teams units. Though those units had their fair share of struggles last season under coordinator Danny Smith, Boykin was invaluable.
During the 2022 season, Boykin played 207 snaps (50%) on special teams and just 132 snaps (12%) on offense for the Steelers. In total, Boykin was targeted just three times, hauling in two passes for 11 yards, one of which went for a first down while playing a very minor depth role on offense.
It wasn’t a surprise that the Steelers quickly placed a claim on Boykin after he was waived by the Ravens, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the franchise move quickly to retain the young receiver this offseason, giving him a real chance to compete for a role offensively now that Claypool is gone and there’s a real need for some depth behind Johnson and Pickens.
Boykin was a height/weight/speed monster out of Notre Dame. At nearly 6’4″, 220 pounds, Boykin blazed a 4.42 40 with a 43.5-inch vertical, 11’8″ broad jump, and impressive shuttle times. True to form, Pittsburgh showed plenty of pre-draft interest, including bringing him in for a pre-draft visit. They ultimately selected Diontae Johnson instead as more of a 1:1 replacement for Antonio Brown.
The Steelers showed significant interest with Boykin ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, attending Notre Dame’s Pro Day as Kevin Colbert, Dan Rooney Jr., Phil Kreidler, and Teryl Austin all attended the Fighting Irish’s workout. The Steelers also had Boykin in for a pre-draft visit, and met extensively with him at that year’s Combine.
Last season, Boykin made $2.4 million after being claimed by the Steelers, which covered the final year of his rookie deal and included the NFL’s Proven Performance Escalator. He is currently set to enter free agency as an Unrestricted Free Agent, though it sounds like he loved his time in Pittsburgh, battling through the adversity the 2022 season threw at not only him, but the team as a whole, which could lead to him returning for the 2023 season — and potentially beyond.