Chris Boswell

Steelers K Chris Boswell On Roster Bubble

Chris Boswell has spent the past four seasons with the Steelers, but his tenure in Pittsburgh could be coming to an end. In his 53-man roster predictions, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that the veteran kicker isn’t a shoo-in to make the team.

The 2014 undrafted free agent out of Rice had stops with the Texans and Giants before joining the Steelers in 2015. Boswell quickly became a mainstay of the Steelers’ special teams unit, appearing in 58 regular season games over the past four years. The 28-year-old was more-than-solid during his first three years with Pittsburgh, including a 2017 campaign where he earned a Pro Bowl nod.

However, Boswell struggled mightily in 2018. The kicker connected on only 65-percent of his field goal attempts, and he also converted a subpar 89.6-percent of his extra point chances. The front office reworked Boswell’s contract back in May, delaying his $2MM bonus until after the club’s final preseason game (the kicker was originally set to collect the bonus in March). This buys the Steelers some extra time as they evaluate the position, while Boswell gets a chance at redemption.

If the Steelers do decide to move on from Boswell, the team could turn to Central Florida rookie Matthew Wright. However, Kaboly says it’s more likely that the team pursues whichever free agent is cut loose during the preseason.

While there are question marks surrounding the Steelers’ kicker, the rest of their special teams unit seems set. Kaboly writes that punter Jordan Berry and long snapper Kameron Canaday are “secure.”

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Steelers Rework Chris Boswell’s Contract

The Steelers pushed kicker Chris Boswell to delay his $2MM bonus until after the club’s final preseason game, Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette (on Twitter) hears. Originally, Boswell was slated to collect on that bonus in mid-March. 

Had Boswell not accepted the payout change, Dulac hears that he would have been released. By pushing up the bonus date, the Steelers will give themselves additional time before deciding whether to give the veteran a shot at redemption.

Last year, Boswell converted just 65% of his field goal attempts last season, a percentage that ranked him 30th among kickers. That’s a far cry from his previous work, including his 2017 Pro Bowl campaign in which he sank 92.1% of his kicks, nailed all four of his tries from t50 yards and further, and earned his first ever trip to the Pro Bowl.

The Steelers also have Central Florida rookie Matthew Wright on the roster and could conceivably look at other kicking options between now and September.

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AFC Notes: Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Broncos

The Jets have “massive buyer’s remorse” after signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Johnson, who had been franchise-tagged by the Rams in both 2016 and 2017, is now the NFL’s second-highest paid corner behind only Josh Norman. While he may not have played like a No. 1 CB last season, Johnson’s numbers were much improved from 2017. After ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 60 corner in 2017, Johnson finished 24th in PFF’s grades last year. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, ranked Johnson as a bottom-10 corner in success rate in 2017, but 30th in 2018. Gang Green can’t realistically exit the Johnson contract until after the 2019 campaign.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Steelers appear set to explore the trade market for wide receiver Antonio Brown, but the return for the superstar may not be as lucrative as Pittsburgh hopes. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (video link) surveyed multiple NFL executives and reached the conclusion that the Steelers are likely to receive something in the neighborhood of a third-round pick in exchange for Brown. While he’s still among the NFL’s best pass-catchers, Brown is heading into his age-31 season and will be due north of $15MM in 2019. Additionally, it’s fair to wonder if some rival clubs are skeptical of Brown given his recent off-field antics. Earlier today, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear that he won’t simply give Brown away.
  • Speaking of embattled Steelers, kicker Chris Boswell is likely to face competition in training camp following a down 2018 campaign, as Colbert indicated to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Boswell only converted 65% of his field goal attempts last season, a percentage that ranked him 30th among kickers. He’s due a $2MM roster bonus on March 15, and the Steelers are presumably willing to pay that total given that Colbert says Boswell will be at training camp.
  • Cornerback Jimmy Smith could be a potential cap casualty as the Ravens move forward this offseason, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Smith is scheduled to count for nearly $16MM on Baltimore’s salary cap in 2019 (the highest figure on the club and second-highest among NFL corners), is now 30 years old, and has missed 13 games over the past three season due to injuries and a suspension. The Ravens have plenty of cornerback depth to withstand the loss of Smith (Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young), but he’s still playing at a high level.
  • The Broncos have begun negotiations with offensive lineman Billy Turner, and he may be the sole member of Denver’s unrestricted free agent class that will reach an agreement before the start of the new league year, writes Mike Klis of 9News. A former third-round pick of the Dolphins, Turner signed for $2MM last offseason and should receive a salary bump this year. He played 76% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps a year ago, and could return either as a starter or a valuable reserve in 2019.

Steelers Place K Chris Boswell On IR

The Steelers are making a significant change ahead of their biggest game of the season. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the team is placing kicker Chris Boswell on injured reserve. The team has signed kicker Matt McCrane to take his place.

After making the Pro Bowl last season, Boswell has struggled mightily in 2018. Through 15 games, Boswell has converted only 13 of his 20 field goal attempts, with his 65-percent mark ranking dead last among eligible kickers. The 27-year-old even struggled on extra points; after having made at least 94-percent of his attempts through the first three seasons of his career, that number dropped to 89.6-percent (43-for-48) in 2018.

Boswell seemed to have a rebound game during last weekend’s loss to the Saints, as he made his two field goal attempts and two extra point tries. Many attributed the kicker’s struggles to the yips, and his placement on the IR doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s been dealing with a nagging injury throughout the campaign. It’s more likely that the coaching staff still didn’t feel good about Boswell’s prospects heading into Week 17 and the postseason, and his placement on the IR allowed the organization to keep him on the roster.

McCrane, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State, has bounced around the NFL this season, spending time with the Cardinals and Raiders. He appeared in four total games with the two organizations, connecting on five of his nine field goal attempts and all five of his extra point tries.

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Steelers To Stick With Chris Boswell

The Steelers won’t be getting rid of Chris Boswell after all. The club worked out kickers after Boswell’s rough showing against the Raiders, but they have decided against making a chance at this time, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets

On Wednesday, the Steelers brought in Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane for a competition on the practice field alongside Boswell. Forbath apparently had a strong workout and was kept in Pittsburgh overnight after his audition. But, on Thursday, Boswell responded with a strong practice, and the Steelers decided to ride it out with the fourth-year pro.

To help Boswell get back on the right track, the Steelers have brought in old friend Shaun Suisham to work with him, according to Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette (on Twitter). Boswell has been undeniably bad this season, but there’s reason to believe in his leg after he sank 92.1% of his field goal tries in 2017 and earned his first ever Pro Bowl nod.

Of course, Boswell’s contract is also a factor here. In the offseason, the Steelers inked Boswell to a new four-year, $19.2MM extension and cutting him would result in upwards of $6MM in dead money.

Boswell and the Steelers will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Sunday when they face the Patriots.

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AFC Notes: Steelers, Dolphins, Ravens, Jets

Free agent kicker Kai Forbath was impressive during his Wednesday workout with the Steelers, and Pittsburgh is “keeping him on hold” while they determine a course of action with incumbent Chris Boswell, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Boswell’s fate with the Steelers could well rest on his performance during Thursday’s practice, per Fowler. Boswell missed two field goals against the Raiders on Sunday, including one that would have tied the game as regulation expired. All told this year, Boswell has missed six field goal attempts (leaving with him a conversion percentage that ranks last in the NFL) and five extra points. According to Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics, the Steelers’ kicking game is the second-worst in the league.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Ryan Tannehill‘s injury woes continue, as the Dolphins quarterback suffered an ankle injury in Miami’s stunning victory over the Patriots on Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Tannehill practiced on Wednesday and should be able to face the Vikings in Week 15, head coach Adam Gase told reporters, including Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link), but Rapoport indicates Tannehill could be limited against Minnesota. Tannehill himself, meanwhile, said he’s “encouraged” by his progress thus far, per Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. The Dolphins will be fighting for their playoff lives, as FiveThirtyEight.com currently gives them a one-in-five chance of earning a postseason berth.
  • The Ravens appear likely to target safety help early in the 2019 draft, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Eric Weddle could potentially be released next spring if he doesn’t retire, and hanging up the cleats is a possibility for the veteran defensive back giving that he’ll be entering his age-34 campaign. Tony Jefferson won’t be released due to the dead money that would be associated with such a move, but there’s no question Baltimore needs help at safety. As Zrebiec indicates, the Ravens have been horrendous against opposing tight ends, and rank 26th against the position in DVOA.
  • If/when the Jets part ways with Todd Bowles, Gang Green should pursue John Harbaugh as their next head coach, opines Brian Costello of the New York Post. Harbaugh, of course, isn’t nearly the lock to be fired that Bowles is, as Baltimore still has a decent chance of making the postseason, either by winning the AFC North or by securing the No. 6 seed. But if he is available, Harbaugh would add “instant credibility” to a Jets organization that desperately needs it. If Harbaugh doesn’t hit the coaching market, other veterans like Mike McCarthy or Jack Del Rio could be considered by New York, but Costello expects the Jets to target a young offensive mind instead.
  • The Raiders are seeking a new general manager after firing Reggie McKenzie earlier this week, and one name that could surface during the search is Jets director of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. However, as Robinson writes, it’s unclear if the Oakland job will have any sort of allure around the NFL, especially given that most executives will see the gig as nothing short of being Jon Gruden‘s “puppet master.” Heimerdinger, for his part, is currently in his third season with New York after previously spending time with the Rams and Texans.

Steelers To Work Out Kickers

The Steelers are giving serious thought to moving on from kicker Chris Boswell. On Wednesday, the club flew in free agent kickers Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane to compete with the incumbent kicker, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Days after Boswell missed two field goals, including a game tying try, against the Raiders, head coach Mike Tomlin admitted that he would consider alternatives. He also noted the general lack of quality options in the free agent pool and he was therefore undecided on whether to audition other kickers. After some consideration, the Steelers opted to open up a competition.

Boswell’s miss at the end of Sunday’s game can be attributed to the bad turf in Oakland, but the rest of his struggles this year cannot be written off. Of course, this comes just months after the Steelers gave him a four-year, $19.2MM extension with a $6MM roster bonus, which may complicate the final decision.

The division-leading Steelers finish out the year against the Patriots, Saints, and Bengals. Thanks to a three-game losing streak, they lead the Ravens by just 0.5 games for the AFC North crown.

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Steelers May Move On From Chris Boswell

After Chris Boswell‘s slip cost them a chance to beat the Raiders on Sunday, the Steelers are considering a change at kicker. At his weekly news conference on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin admitted that the team will “explore” alternatives. 

We acknowledge that Chris has struggled. He has struggled to find consistent footing,” Tomlin said (via WTAE). “We are willing to explore options that give us the best chances of the ball going through the uprights this week. That being said, those options include Chris.”

Boswell’s botched attempt to tie the game can be blamed on the poor turf at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, but he also missed a 39-yard kick in the first half and got lucky on an extra point try that went through after hitting the upright. All in all, he’s made just 10 of 16 field goal tries this year and has missed five extra points. It’s a far cry from his work last year – Boswell sank 35 of 38 field goal attempts in 2017 and made 37 of his 39 XPs.

It remains to be seen when or if the Steelers will audition other kickers. Their frustration with Boswell is understandable, but there aren’t a ton of quality kickers available at this stage of the season.

At this time of the year, we are cognizant of what’s available, and we realize it’s prudent to include Chris in those options,” Tomlin said. “His performance merits us turning stones over and looking at options.”

The Steelers dropped to 7-5-1 and extended their losing streak to three games with Sunday’s heartbreaking loss. With three games to go, they’ll fight to stave off the Ravens for the AFC North title.

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Steelers, K Chris Boswell Agree To Extension

The Steelers and kicker Chris Boswell have agreed to an extension, the team announced on Thursday. Four years have been tacked onto Boswell’s deal at a value of $19.72MM, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets

Boswell will still play out his 2018 tender, worth $2.97MM. After that, the new four-year deal will begin. All in all, he’s under club control through the 2022 season.

The new pact makes Boswell the sixth highest-paid kicker in the NFL. It only makes sense after Boswell nailed 35 of 38 field goal attempts and 37 of 39 extra point tries last year. His 35 field goals set a franchise single-season record and marked the first time a Steelers kicker has made at least 30 field goals since Shaun Suisham did so in 2013.

Five other kickers earn at least $4MM annually, and the most recent member of that club — the Panthers’ Graham Gano — signed a deal in March that came in above Justin Tucker‘s 2015 contract.

In his career Boswell has connected on 85 of 95 field goal attempts, with the long being his 53-yard game-winning field goal against the Packers last year. He’s also converted 99 of 102 extra points.

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Steelers, Chris Boswell Talking Extension

The Steelers applied a second-round RFA tender to Chris Boswell in March but don’t appear to want their kicker back under that arrangement this season.

Boswell said negotiations between his camp and the Steelers began this week, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The fourth-year kicker’s only played for the Steelers, and he stands to be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

A report last week tabbed Boswell as an extension priority, and the Steelers are following through in hopes of keeping their kicker in the fold long-term. Boswell’s coming off a Pro Bowl season, having made 35 of 38 field goal attempts (including four game-winning tries). He saw all four of his 50-plus-yard attempts sail through the uprights as well.

It will probably take a $4MM-per-year deal (or close to it) for Pittsburgh to lock up the 27-year-old Boswell. Five kickers earn $4MM annually, and the most recent member of that club — the Panthers’ Graham Gano — signed a deal in March that came in above Justin Tucker‘s 2015 contract.

Boswell is attached to that $2.9MM RFA tender price presently. The Steelers, who couldn’t agree to an extension with Le’Veon Bell to reduce his $14.5MM 2018 cap hold, currently have just more than $4MM in cap space.

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