Cap Class: Signing Chris Boswell

Chris Boswell's Twitter page @WizardOfBoz09


Cap Class is a series where I break down the cap to find the amounts associated with the roster, dead money, or future cost of players. Dollar amounts and cap cost may not be exciting, but they can be interesting when you look inside the numbers. I will place explanations inside of {braces}, so if you know how those numbers are found, you can skip over them. So grab your pencils and calculators, and let’s do some math!

Chris Boswell is coming off his greatest season in the NFL. With 4 clutch game winning field goals, he single ‘leggedly’ made sure his team would finish with a 13-3 record. His 92.1 FG% was a career best, as well as going 4 for 4 from 50+ yards. Those numbers were good enough to earn ‘Boz’ his first pro bowl appearance, and the Steelers first kicker to earn those honors, since Gary Anderson in 1993.

Due to his value and success, Boz was given a second round restricted free agent tender in March to keep him a Steeler this year. The tender placed on him, costs the Steelers $2.914M against the salary cap. If another team offered him a multiyear contract, and the Steelers did not match it, he would leave, but his new team would have to give the Steelers a 2nd round draft pick as compensation, which is a very high price to pay for a kicker.

The Steelers are in contract negotiations with Boswell’s agent, and they are currently working out the details of a long term contract. With the Steelers’ salary cap room being $3.7M, they have some room to maneuver to make sure this contract is still beneficial for both parties.

Looking at a few kicker’s contracts signed the past few years, we can determine what Boswell’s contract might look like. Top kickers earn between $4-$5M, have total contracts in the $17M range and get guarantees around $9M. In 2006 Justin Tucker, perennial pro bowl kicker in Baltimore, signed a 4yr $16.8M deal with $10.8M guaranteed. Graham Gano, fellow pro bowl kicker this year for the NFC, just signed a 4 year $17M contract with $9M guaranteed. Those contracts are similar, and we should expect Boswell’s contract to mirror that of Gano’s.

When doing a new contract, the Steelers get the benefit of removing the 1yr $2.914M cap charge for Boswell’s restricted free agent tender, and his new contract would then be his salary cap. So instead of being $3.7M under the cap, the Steelers would be $6.614 under the cap to finish his contract. It would be ideal to have a cap number lower or close to the restricted free agent tender, for the first year of the deal. So a $1M salary and an $8M signing bonus would mean a pro rated figure of $2M per year (the lowest salary that can be offered to a 3yr player is $705k this season). Adding the salary to the prorated signing bonus, yields a $3M cap charge, and the Steelers’ salary cap is roughly the same as it was before the deal was signed being closer to $3.6M. Not a bad value to retain a pro bowl kicker.

If this is a $17M contract, and $9M has already been spent in guarantees, that leaves another $8M left over 3 years for salary, or an average of $2M/year for 3 years. If this is the case, the $2M prorated portion of the signing bonus would bring the cap hit to $4M/yr for the next 3 years, which is in line with the average salary and cap hits for top kickers.

I am over simplifying the contract a bit for future years, because those are the numbers that are currently being negotiated, as well as the guarantees. After crunching the numbers a bit though, ‘The Boz’ will be kicking FGs in Pittsburgh for years to come, without taking away much from this year’s salary cap.

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