In May the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted punter Pressley Harvin III to compete with incumbent Jordan Berry. Now the team has a second placekicker, too. On July 1, the Steelers announced the signing of Sam Sloman, a 2020 seventh-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams.
The Steelers appear to be in good shape at placekicker with Chris Boswell, so Sloman may be coming to training camp simply to “push” Boswell and take care of some of the workload from four preseason games. A pessimist might note that Boswell struggled with nagging injury issues in 2020, and that Sloman could be an insurance policy of sorts, in case Boswell can’t stay healthy.
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Recall that Boswell dealt with both hip and groin issues in 2020, which limited him to 13 games last year, necessitating the use of practice squad kicker Matthew Wright. (Wright acquitted himself well, converting four of four field goal attempts and making all seven of his extra point attempts, but he lacks the leg strength to be a long-term option in the NFL.)
Sam Sloman Struggled with the Rams
Sloman was drafted into the NFL last spring, selected No. 248 overall by the Rams out of Miami of Ohio, the same school that produced Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He won the team’s placekicking job but was released (in favor of veteran Kai Forbath) after just seven games, having made 10 of 13 field goal attempts and 23 of 26 extra point attempts.
In November 2020, Tennessee added him to its practice squad, and he was perfect in the one game he kicked for the Titans (2 of 2 on field goals, 5 of 5 on extra point attempts), including a 37-yard field goal that allowed Tennessee to clinch the AFC South with a 41-38 win over the Houston Texans.
Chris Boswell’s Career Arc
Chris Boswell, 30, is entering his seventh year with the Steelers. Over the course of his time in Pittsburgh he has made 146 of 166 field goals (88%), as well as 204 of 216 extra point attempts (94.4%). Last year he converted all but one of his field goal attempts (95%), representing a career high in field goal percentage.
The Rice product has been remarkably consistent over the course of his NFL career, except for 2018, when he made only 65 percent of his field goal attempts, leaving his job very much in doubt through the summer of 2019. In fact, the Steelers delayed giving him a $2 million roster bonus that year, giving him the chance to win back his job.
Boswell’s contract with the Steelers extends through the end of the 2022 campaign. According to overthecap.com he is scheduled to earn salaries of $3,085,000 in 2021 and $3,260,000 in 2022. This year he will count $4,773,333 against the salary cap, representing 2.6% of the team’s cap.
While contract terms surrounding the Sloman signing are not yet available, it’s safe to say that if Sloman takes Boswell’s job this summer, he would represent a much less expensive option than Boswell, who earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017.
To make room on the roster for Sloman, the Steelers waived defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, who went unclaimed and has since been added to Pittsburgh’s Reserve/Injured list. The team originally onboarded Christmas in November 2020, signing the former sixth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks at a time when fellow defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and Chris Wormley were injured.
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