After an exceptional 2017 season that saw him voted to the Pro Bowl, it would be fair to say that no Pittsburgh Steelers player had a more disappointing year in 2018 than Chris Boswell. Kicks that had became routine were a monumental challenge for the young kicker last season, with Boswell converting just 65-percent of his field goal attempts and a disappointing 89.6-percent of his extra points.
If not for the sizable contract extension he had signed back in August, there is a good chance the Steelers would have parted ways with him mid-season, but instead opted to place him on injured reserve when a groin injury revealed itself.
Heading into the second year of his new five-year deal, many had assumed that the structure of his contract would still make releasing him challenging, especially in light of a roster bonus that was due to him just days after the new league year began in March. However, it would appear that the front office took steps to fix that obstacle earlier in the offseason when they significantly altered the date of when that bonus was due.
Steelers told K Chris Boswell they would delay his $2 million roster bonus, which was due in mid-March, till after the final preseason game in Carolina. If Boswell didn't agree, they would have cut him. Steelers want to see more before deciding to give him a chance at redemption— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) May 29, 2019
As per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other sources on Tuesday, the payment of the $2 million roster bonus that Boswell was due has been moved back until after the team’s final preseason game, a move that would save the Steelers a decent amount of money if they decided to part ways with the fourth-year kicker ahead of the regular season.
Prior to this move, cutting Boswell this offseason would have saved Pittsburgh just $1 million in cap space and left them with $6.8 million in dead money to account spread over two seasons, now those figures will change to $3 million in savings and $4.8 million in dead money.
For a young player clearly struggling with confidence. this move cannot have helped him prepare for a bounce back season, the specter of his looming release now hanging over him. And while the Steelers hesitation to make a binding commitment is understandable, the business of football is not always a palatable one. Forced to acquiesce to the request or be released back in March, the front office left Boswell with few options this offseason.
Whether he can regain his form in an environment that appears to have minimal faith in his ability to rebound remains to be seen, and some might argue that Boswell may well be better served playing elsewhere in 2019 with a clean slate.