When the Pittsburgh Steelers switched to Chris Boswell seven years ago, it was their fourth choice. He had been circumcised three times in the past 13 months.
Few could have imagined then that Boswell would reach his thirties as one of the best players in the NFL.
“It was always a dream, but now it’s a reality, so it feels good but I’m not done yet. I won’t look back until a later date,” Boswell said during training camp last week.
It’s possible that Boswell and the Steelers will be hoping the date won’t come several years later. Both sides can do something about that, too, over the next month. As a potential unrestricted free agent this spring, Boswell is a candidate for a contract extension.
Boswell said he wanted to stay with the Steelers, and the team’s own coach, Danny Smith, left no room for ambiguity when he said Boswell would “get a new deal at some point”. And why don’t the Steelers want to continue their marriage with Boswell? He is among the best in the world at what he does.
“‘Boz’ did exactly what we asked him to do,” Smith said earlier this summer. “Pose man claw.”
Since making his NFL debut during a dramatic “Monday Night Football” win on October 12, 2015, in San Diego, Boswell has ranked second in the league in field goal percentage (88.3%). He scored 11 of 13 kicks in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime during that time, including three successful field goals last season.
Boswell’s 2021 also included two games in which he scored three field goals in the Steelers’ final quarter, a Heinz Field record of 56 yards and nearly doubling his career from 50 yards or more.
Boswell last year entered 9 for 12 of that range and went 8 for 9 last season.
“Kickers are getting better every year, and you have to compete with that,” Boswell said.
“I’m sure, I’m sure,” # steel Kicker Chris Boswell said Thursday when asked if he is optimistic a deal will be struck by the start of the regular season on September 11. https://t.co/ggxcJKuXSf
– Tribune-ReviewSports (TribSports) 28 July 2022
Seven training camps before, the Steelers’ kicking situation was thrown into disarray by a series of unexpected events. First, the player who kicked the previous four and a half years, Sean Swisham, suffered a ruptured ACL during a Hall of Fame game. This led to the NFL renovating Canton Stadium where the game is held annually as well as eventually ending Swisham’s career.
Attempts by the Steelers to replace Suisham began that summer with Garrett Hartley, but he also sustained a major injury during a pre-season game. The Steelers then traded in the sixth round to Jacksonville for the well-respected Josh Scobey. His tenure with the Steelers was disastrous – he missed four of his 10 field goals and an extra point in his first four games of the season (including two potential late-game winners with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens).
So the Steelers signed with Boswell. He made his first 17 kicks and converted 63 of the 67 total (including the playoffs).
Seven years later, it’s still his job.
Boswell’s approach is also his strength as a leader: equal and untrustworthy.
“Mentally, you should be there,” he said. “You have to be aware of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Other than that, I don’t really care about the mental aspect. I just stay inside and don’t get too caught up in what’s going on around me.”
This includes the status of his contract, a contract that Boswell underestimates, and defers to his agent and Steelers general manager Omar Khan to negotiate.
Boswell is set to make $3.26 million this season with a $4.95 million maximum salary under a four-year contract he signed in 2018, making him the ninth highest earner in the NFL in average annual value.
The highest paid players in the NFL – Ravens’ Justin Tucker and Atlanta Falcons’ Youngo Koo – average $5 million and $4.85 million, respectively. It’s almost certain that Boswell will end up in that range. And his position coach says that would be money well spent.
“Bose is a pleasure to work with,” Smith said. “He is excellent. We are very happy with him.”