PITTSBURGH — Plenty of professional football players are going through the 2019 offseason wishing they’d had a better go of it in 2018.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell might be right up at the top of that last.
The 2017 Pro Bowler had built a stellar reputation in his first three seasons in the league, making 90 percent of his kicks and showing a knack for connecting on big kicks in late-game situations.
Last summer, the Steelers signed Boswell to a five-year contract worth $20 million, making him the fifth-highest paid kicker in the NFL.
Then came a 2018 season that couldn’t have gone any worse for Boswell.
He made just 13 of 20 (65%) on the season, and furthermore, missed several kicks in some critical losses as the Steelers slipped to 9-6-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
In the team’s six losses and one tie, Boswell was 6 for 11 (54.5%). Four of those games were decided by a field goal or less. Flip any into the win column, and the Steelers would have found themselves in the postseason.
Boswell spent the end of that run on the injured reserve, having been placed their after he went 2 for 2 in Week 15’s loss at New Orleans.
Speaking to reports at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side on Tuesday for the first time since then, Boswell didn’t want to talk about his injury or how it might have affected him during the 2018 season.
“That’s not something that is ever going to be shared,” Boswell said. “I had some long meetings with a lot of people and just kind of getting to the bottom of everything. I’m try to have a nice foundation going into camp and the season.”
He just wants to move on and focus on the ongoing battle to re-claim his starting position. Somewhat surprisingly, his plan to go about doing that is to do — exactly what he did last season.
“I’m going to stick to what I did going into my fourth year here,” Boswell said. “It didn’t work last year, but I’m not just going to scratch everything.”
There will be competition at the kicker position, but it won’t be the one most expected this offseason. Matt McCrane, who the Steelers signed after Boswell was put on the injured reserve, was released after rookie camp, leaving just UCF rookie Matthew Wright to compete with Boswell. Wright made 85.7% of his kicks as a senior with the Knights, but Boswell isn’t concerned about the nature of the competition.
He knows that if he can regain the form that led him to a Pro Bowl season and a hefty contract, the Steelers will stick by him. If he can’t, they probably won’t, whether it ends up being Wright or another kicker. That’s the competition that he’s focusing on as he prepares for 2019.
“No matter who’s out here, it’s me versus me, it’s not me versus anybody,” he said. “As long as I can conquer that, I should be pretty good.”