The Pittsburgh Steelers have been wheeling and dealing in recent weeks under GM Omar Khan and Assistant GN Andy Weidl, following the start of the new league year.
While the duo might not be done adding to the roster, two key unrestricted free agents that played key roles for the Steelers last season might have to wait until after the 2023 NFL Draft to re-sign with the Steelers, according to Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola.
In a response to a pair of readers in his “Asked and Answered” blog, Labriola stated that wide receiver Miles Boykin and running back Benny Snell Jr. may have to wait until after the draft in late April to get a roster spot on the Steelers once again.
“…I would think that after the draft the Steelers might try to work something out with Miles Boykin, because his contribution as a gunner was a significant element in the Steelers punt team finishing second in the NFL in average yards allowed per return during the 2022 season,” Labriola writes regarding Boykin. “He presents a physical element from the wide receiver position on running plays; and by all accounts he’s a solid teammate and example for younger players.”
As for Snell, Labriola had a similar answer for the fifth-year running back who came up big for the Steelers at various points in the 2022 season.
“This is another of those situations that I believe will have to wait until after the draft. Benny Snell’s primary worth to the team in 2023 would be as a core special-teams player, and he did play 284 special teams snaps (65 percent) last season,” Labriola writes regarding Snell. “In terms of the running back rotation, Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are the clear Nos. 1 and 2 at the position, and so Snell would be viewed only as injury insurance there. It’s not impossible that Snell is brought back, but it’s also not impossible that either the team or the player decides to move on.”
Labriola’s thought that both veteran special-teams pieces might have to wait until after the draft is a fair one, considering the two remain on the market at this point in the offseason and are really slotted in as special-teams guys only. Chances are, they will be available after the draft, and should the Steelers be interested in a reunion with the duo, they’d be able to get something done rather quickly post-draft.
In 2022, Snell was essentially the Steelers’ third-string running back and that led to him playing just 42 offensive snaps on his way to registering 20 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, in addition to two catches for another 17 yards. The real reason that Snell was on the 2022 roster again was due to his special-teams ability. He logged 284 special-teams snaps in 2022 on his way to registering eight total tackles.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a big fan of Snell so there is that to consider in regard to Snell’s future. It’s not out of the question that Snell is be re-signed this offseason. If he is, however, it will likely be a one-year deal with little to no guaranteed money included.
As for Boykin, he was claimed off of waivers during the 2022 offseason from the Baltimore Ravens and slotted in nicely with the Steelers, holding down a key special-teams role while seeing some work offensively. Boykin played 132 offensive snaps in 2022 and 207 more on special teams. On offense, Boykin caught just two passes for 11 yards on three total targets in 2022. As a run blocker in 2022, he was above average. As for his contributions on special teams, Boykin had 10 total tackles in 2022. Nine of those tackles were of the primary variety, and he led the team in that category. He did miss one game in 2022 with an oblique injury.
Overall, the two players certainly aren’t going to break the bank, and at this point don’t seem to have much outside interest from the 31 other teams. That makes the chances of their return to the Steel City on one-year deals greater.
Getting the two special-teams stalwarts back would do wonders for Danny Smith’s depth chart entering the 2023 season, especially as he looks to break in a number of new players following some offseason losses.