When the Pittsburgh Steelers were going through the rolodex of potential place kickers early in the 2015 season, they finally made a call which landed them a solid, young and cheap kicker. But before I get ahead of myself, let's revisit the dreadful preseason game when incumbent starter, Shaun Suisham, was lost for the year with a torn ACL.
Prior to the injury, Suisham was coming off arguably his best year with the Steelers. In 2014, Suisham made 29 of 32 kicks for a 90.6 average, all in 16 regular season games. One of his three misses came from the 20-29 yard range, and two from over 50-yards, with his longest being a 53-yard field goal. Pretty impressive statistics, even though the miss from close range sticks out like a sore thumb. There was no doubt Suisham was the Steelers' man with the golden toe, and they rewarded the Canadian, turned American, with a new contract prior to the 2015 season.
Then the ACL injury happened. Then Josh Scobee, and Garrett Hartley, and finally a young strapping man from Rice named Chris Boswell was called to duty to try his hand at the kicking game.
He didn't just give it a shot, he grabbed the bull by the horns. In his 12 regular season games last season, Boswell made 29 of 32 kicks for a 90.6 average. His three misses all came from the 40-49 yard range, and he made two kicks over 50-yards in length, his longest being a 51-yard boot. Extremely similar to Suisham's statistics, which brings up the odd conclusion when talking about the impending kicker battle in Latrobe, PA this Summer.
If Suisham and Boswell both remain very steady and accurate kickers, which isn't a guarantee with Suisham coming off a knee injury, the decision on which kicker to retain, and which to let go in some way, shape or form is a no-brainer.
Scratching your head wondering which one the team should keep? Don't hurt yourself, it is Chris Boswell.
Like I said earlier, if they both remain steady and reliable, and don't somehow take lessons from Scobee this offseason, the decision becomes more about finances than it does about anything else. Suisham's 2015 salary cap hit? $3,503,000. Boswell's 2015 salary cap hit? $525,000.
Could the decision be that simple? Absolutely. The Steelers could certainly cut Suisham, carry some dead money with them -- $1,103,000 if Suisham were a post June 1st cut, to be exact -- and move into the season with Boswell and have some extra cap room to re-sign some of their own players they want to keep around. What they could also do is dangle Suisham on the open market and see if they can't get a draft pick or two, or cash, back for a reliable kicker.Teams are certainly looking for a reliable kicker, so much so that Josh Scobee got phone calls after being released from Pittsburgh.
Inviting Suisham to camp isn't a bad move. It will give the team, and Suisham, a chance to prove he is healthy and can still kick. If he can do that, they could possibly get something in return for having two reliable kickers on their roster. However, for anyone thinking it is smart to have Suisham as the kicker in 2016, unless Boswell gets injured, well you simply aren't looking at the whole picture. It is a no-brainer.