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Bengals WR Tyler Boyd Likely to Walk in Free Agency

It seems that Pittsburgh native Tyler Boyd might find a new team this year. Could the Steelers end up being that team?



Cincinnati Bengals Pittsburgh Steelers Tyler Boyd
Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 25, 2021 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Cincinnati Bengals have some decisions to make this offseason. Tee Higgins is destined to receive the franchise tag, but beyond that, Jonah Williams is a free agent, and so is wide receiver Tyler Boyd. Boyd has been with the team since they drafted him in 2016, but it could be time for the 29-year-old to venture to another team.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN believes this is exactly what is going to happen.

“Many around the league believe Cincinnati will franchise-tag wide receiver Tee Higgins and let veteran slot receiver Tyler Boyd walk,” Fowler wrote.

Playing for Clairton and the University of Pittsburgh, Boyd has all of the deep connections to Pittsburgh as anyone else would in the NFL. The one team he has yet to play for? The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Boyd, in the past, has talked about the culture in Pittsburgh, and has even bit back against his hometown team several times. In Cincinnati, Boyd is the slot counterpart to Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase in the three-headed monster. He has played the last eight seasons with them. He has made 513 catches for 7,000 yards and 31 touchdowns during that time and has served as a mainstay during the franchise’s rebuild in the earlier part of his career through their more recent success.

But the Steelers will likely need a slot receiver, with Allen Robinson II unlikely to return. Boyd will hit free agency this season, and with the Bengals likely focused on keeping Higgins for the long term, Boyd could end up elsewhere. Could that place be right back at home? Boyd dished on that possibility.

“You never know,” Boyd said to Dominic Campbell of Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I love Coach Tomlin. He’s probably one of the realest dudes in the sport’s business. Obviously, I played at Pitt, and I had a lot of run-ins with him and talked to him just about football. His personality is more like a father figure, it’s a great connection, but who knows? Even if I don’t go after this year, I could do a one-year deal at the end of my career and maybe finish up, but who knows.”

The Steelers will have to survey the landscape and how they want to attack the free agency period, but these types of connections have ended up with players coming back to Pittsburgh in the past. And Boyd is just 29-years-old and would cement the receiving corps in Pittsburgh with George Pickens and Diontae Johnson if he was to come to Pittsburgh.

With Arthur Smith’s offense, it needs a slot receiver that can work over the middle of the field and compete as a blocker. Boyd certainly checks those boxes, but it might be a more expensive option than they are willing to actually look at at wide receiver.