Steelers offseason positional outlook: Specialists
Editor’s note: This is final installment of a 12-part series breaking down the Pittsburgh Steelers at each position in the offseason. All salary cap information courtesy spotrac.com.
In August, the Pittsburgh Steelers spent a lot of money to solidify their kicking situation into the next decade. By December, that was looking like a poor investment.
Over a four-month span, Chris Boswell went from one of the NFL’s best kickers to one who probably would have been out of a job if not for the lucrative contract he signed toward the end of training camp. The $6 million bonus the Steelers gave Boswell on Aug. 23 made it prohibitive to cut him during the season because of the dead money salary-cap hit of almost $7.3 million the Steelers would have had to swallow.
In 2019, that dead-money figure drops to a more manageable $4.8 million, meaning if Boswell performs like he did in 2018, the Steelers won’t be as averse to cutting him.
Matt McCrane was signed for the season finale, going 3 for 3 on field goals (something Boswell didn’t do all season) in a victory against Cincinnati. McCrane said he signed a two-year deal, meaning the Steelers intend on inviting him to compete with Boswell in training camp. Don’t be surprised, though, if another kicker is brought in, perhaps at the expense of McCrane.
The Steelers aren’t ready to give up on Boswell. But it’s fair to say they have to protect themselves after he made just 65 percent (13 for 20) of his field goals and missed five of 48 extra points this season. It was a case study to the perils of giving a kicker big money in the NFL’s salary-cap world.
Another decision the Steelers will have to make is whether to give punter Jordan Berry a contract extension. Berry has been good enough to hold the job for four seasons. Before him, no one lasted even two full seasons with the gig since the Mike Tomlin tenure began in 2007.
But the Steelers had free-agent punters in for tryouts during September after a slow start for Berry. After finishing 27th in the NFL in net punting average among those with at least 20 punts this season, the Steelers might consider shopping around.
The question marks (and potential competitions) at punter and kicker are probably good news for Kameron Canaday, who completed his second season at long snapper. As a restricted free agent, he almost assuredly will be back, and it’s unlikely the Steelers would use up roster spots to bring in competition at all three specialist positions.
Offseason outlook: Specialists
• K Chris Boswell, 4 years left on contract, $4.2 million cap hit for 2019
• K Matt McCrane, 1 year left on contract, estimated $555,000 cap hit for 2019
• P Jordan Berry, unrestricted, $1.907 million cap hit in 2018
• LS Kameron Canaday, restricted, $630,000 cap hit in 2018
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Chris at email@example.com
or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .