Steelers training camp preview: New deal for Chris Boswell could be on table
The Tribune-Review will examine each position on the Steelers roster as they prepare to report for training camp July 25 at Saint Vincent. Today’s installment looks at the four specialists:
Chris Boswell: He didn’t win team MVP, but a case could be made that the Pro Bowl kicker was the team’s most valuable player in clutch situations in 2017. He had four winning field goals in the final minute, including three on the final play of regulation -- all in the second half of the season. That’s the difference between a 13-3 and 9-7 record. Boswell set a franchise record with 142 points and made all four attempts of at least 50 yards. Unless he is signed to an extension, Boswell will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Jordan Berry: He was the first restricted free agent to sign this winter, and he will enter his fourth season with the Steelers. Berry finished No. 23 among punters with a 39.8 net average and was No. 31 with a 43.2 gross average. But he had only two touchbacks, no blocks and dropped 26 punts inside the 20. He is the only specialist who will have competition in camp.
Kameron Canaday: Considerable debate ensued in 2017 when the Steelers used a sixth-round draft pick to take long-snapper Colin Holba. It continued when the Steelers cut Holba and kept Canaday, who was only brought into camp for competition when Greg Warren’s lengthy career ended. Canaday, though, was up to the task and didn’t have a botched snap the entire season. He is back for a second year.
On camp roster
Matt Wile: Signed to a futures contract in January, Wile will provide competition for Berry. Since 2015, he has been with four teams: the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals. The extent of his NFL experience, however, is 10 punts with Arizona and two with Atlanta in 2016. He was not with a team last season after being cut by Arizona in training camp. Wile also has kicking experience, which could come in handy if Boswell were to get injured.
Will Boswell get a new contract before the season starts?
One piece of unfinished financial business before the end of training camp is for the Steelers to get Boswell’s signature on a long-term deal. He will make $2.914 million in 2018 as a restricted free agent, which ranks No. 15 among kickers. To keep him from hitting the open market in 2019, the Steelers will need to up the ante. Three examples for negotiation purposes: The Chicago Bears signed free agent Cody Parkey for four years and $9 million guaranteed. The Tennessee Titans re-signed Ryan Succop for five years and $7.5 million guaranteed, and the Carolina Panthers kept Graham Gano from hitting free agency with a four-year deal that included $9 million guaranteed.