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Report: Steelers Restructure Contract of K Chris Boswell

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Steelers kicker Chris Boswell has restructured has agreed to restructure his contract, according to a report by Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL Radio, as the team continues to make moves to clear up salary cap space for the 2020 season.

Boswell, 29, was set to earn $3.575 million in 2020 in the second year of a four-year, $16.8 million contract. He was owed $1.375 million in salary and $1.2 million in deferred signing bonus that can be redistributed over the final two years of his contract.

After a rough 2018, Boswell bounced back for his best season as a pro in 2019. He made 29 of 31 field goals for a career-best 93.5% percentage and did not miss from under 40 yards on the season. He also hit all 28 extra points.

That came after a 2018 that saw his field goal percentage plummet to 65% and Boswell miss two kicks from under 40 and go just 5 of 10 in between 40 and 50 yards.

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Boswell originally joined the Steelers mid-season in 2015, replacing Josh Scobee. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017.

In addition to restructuring Boswell’s contract on Monday, they did the same with tight end Vance McDonald and released linebackers Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo and wide receiver Johnny Holton on Monday. On the same day, guard Ramon Foster announced his retirement.

The Steelers’ salary cap purge became essential when they placed a franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree earlier on Monday. Unless they’re able to sign him to a long-term extension, Dupree will play on a one-year, $15.9 million contract.

That came on top of the fact that the Steelers entered the offseason already several million over the salary cap.

Their exact position relative to the cap cannot be determined until the exact figures of McDonald and Boswell’s reconstructions have been released.

Steelers

James Conner Surprises Dad with New Truck

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One major goal athletes set out to achieve in their career is to be able to give back to those who raised them and helped them. Steelers running back James Conner was able to do that in a big way when he was able to buy his father a truck.

Conner tweeted a video of the entire exchange and moment. Mr. Conner, and that’s referring to James’ dad, was shocked, even going as far as to start handing his son the keys to the truck, assuming it was actually his. James made sure to let his dad know the new truck was a gift. While it’s unclear the exact model of the truck, it’s clearly all black and said to be a new 2020 edition.

The whole Conner family can now drive the truck down to Heinz Field to watch James and the Steelers play next season (if fans are allowed, of course). And who knows what kind of gift James may buy for his loved ones if he can take his game to another level and earn a new contract, something James has been vocal about hoping is with the Steelers. 

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Odds

Roethlisberger, Gronkowski Co-Favorites to Win Comeback Player of the Year

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski are co-favorites to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year at +400.

Roethlisberger played just two games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending elbow injury against the Seattle Seahawks.

Entering his 17th season, Roethlisberger should be primed for success this season with the help of a reloaded receiving core that added former Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron and Notre Dame-product Chase Claypool at wideout.

Roethlisberger would be the second Steelers quarterback to take home the hardware. Tommy Maddox was awarded the honor back in 2002.

Gronkowski is not returning from an injury, but the former All-Pro tight end is making a comeback all the same.

Gronkowski ended his retirement after just one season to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. One of the biggest mismatches in NFL history, Gronkowski’s 79 touchdown catches are tied for the third-most ever by a tight end.

If he were to win, Gronkowski would join quarterback Chad Pennington as the only other player to win Comeback Player of the Year twice. He won it previously in 2014.

Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt has the next best odds at +600.

The best odds in the division behind Roethlisberger belong to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green at +1000, fourth-best overall.

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Steelers

Steelers Coaches Return to Team Facility

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With the NFL announcing that coaching staffs can return to team facilities, the Steelers wasted no time getting back to work.

Steelers coaches, including head coach Mike Tomlin, returned to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Friday morning.

With Pennsylvania switching over to the “Green Phase” of its COVID-19 reopening plan Friday, the Steelers were one of the organization permitted to welcome back their staffs, but only if they adhere to local and state guidelines.

The team shared a few photos of Tomlin entering the facility, including an image of the 14-year head coach getting his temperature taken in the lobby. Daily checks are clearly part of the league’s protocols with regards to reopening.

To this point, the bulk of the NFL’s offseason has been conducted remotely, including the Draft and free agency.

Tomlin is most likely excited to return to some sense of normalcy. He discussed how challenging the adjustment had been on a conference call last month.

“We face a lot of challenges, my mentality, and the group mentality is going to be they are challenges that everyone faces,” said Tomlin. “From that standpoint it’s going to be fair and the playing field is going to be level. We have to be light on our feet. There is going to be a period of adjustment from a scheduling standpoint as we gain our footing in terms of logistics of what day-to-day looks like and things of that nature.”

“The entire National Football League will be going through it and I just think if we perform relatively better than others, we put ourselves in position to be that team at the end of the journey. That is always our mentality regarding the start of a season.”

The only team employees that had previously been allowed in facilities were athletic trainers and rehabbing players.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not yet announced when all player will be permitted to return, but did note in his memo to clubs Thursday that the league is first attempting to finalize their COVID-19 testing program.

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