It was week 10 back in 2002 when the Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Todd Peterson went down with an injury, and the Steelers were forced to quickly hold a 4-man try-out at Heinz Field to find his replacement.
The Steelers settled on a relatively unknown rookie named Jeff Reed out of the University of North Carolina. In his first career game, Reed would hit 3 field goals in a narrow victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. (Fun fact: That was my first Steelers game in the city of Pittsburgh).
Reed kicked well in the un-friendly confines of Heinz Field for the rest of that season, causing the Steelers to cut Peterson that off-season and keep Jeff around for 8 more seasons.
Fast forward to 2015.
Injury to the Steelers’ starting kicker? Check. Signing relative unknown rookie kicker? Check. Said kicker comes up big in a victory in his first career game? Check.
Said kicker goes on to long and awesome career for Steelers? We shall see.
I know that plenty of people are saying let’s not get too carried away. Boswell has only played 3 games in a Steelers uniform. I think that’s fair. That being said, Boswell did something that very very few kickers do in the NFL. He hit a 51 yard field goal at Heinz Field.
The Steelers have had some extremely reliable kickers in Shaun Suisham and Jeff Reed, but neither was known for their distance on kicks or their kickoffs. Boswell has shown he has both so far. It’s really not all that uncommon for unknowns like Boswell to go from unemployed to very valuable to their team quickly. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was an undrafted free agent.
If Boswell does continue to impress for the rest of the season, the Steelers are going to have a really interesting decision to make next off-season.
The Steelers gave Suisham a pretty hefty contract extension. He’s currently the 6th highest paid kicker in the league by average amount paid per year, and doesn’t become a free agent until 2019. Boswell is signed through 2016 and would become a restricted free agent in 2017. In other words, Boswell would be much cheaper, and has a higher ceiling than Suisham.
With so many years left on Suisham’s contract that would be a tough cut with a lot of dead money to swallow… So the Steelers’ best move would be to find a trade partner even if he only netted them something like a 6th round pick. That’s what Scobee was worth, who at the time was seen has a somewhat expensive but highly reliable kicking option. Suisham is similar, but younger and under team control for several years.
I think the Steelers wouldn’t have too much trouble finding a trade partner with several teams having the same issues the Steelers have had early on with Josh Scobee.
I realize I may be jumping the gun here. The Steelers are in a good position though. With both guys under contract next season, there’s no reason not to have a real competition in camp and deal the guy that doesn’t win the competition.
While just a few weeks ago it appeared as if the Steelers had a serious kicker problem, it now looks like going forward they may have more than they know what to do with.