Tomlin ‘willing to explore’ options outside Boswell

Matt Sunday / DKPS

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell is on the hot seat.

After a stellar 2017 campaign that saw Boswell hit 35 of 38 field goals and 37 of 39 extra points, the Steelers offered a five-year, $20 million contract extension to the kicker, and all seemed well...

... until 2018.

Through 13 games, Boswell has hit 10 of 16 field goals — a 62.5 percentage — most recently going 0-for-2 in Oakland during the Steelers' 24-21 loss to the Raiders. In addition, Boswell has missed five extra points, putting his job in jeopardy.

Mike Tomlin opened up on the situation Tuesday during a press conference.

"We acknowledge that Chris has struggled," Tomlin said. "We acknowledge that Chris has struggled to find consistent footing. We are willing to explore options that give us the very best chances of that ball going through the uprights this weekend. That being said, those options include Chris.

"This time of year, we're cognizant of what's available. The prudent approach is to include Chris in those options, and that's what we intend to do. His performance merits us turning stones over and looking at our options, but the easy decision for us to do is to assign blame or to shoot a hostage or to do things of that nature regarding Boz. That's not our intention. We want to do what's right for our football team. What's right for our football team is to ensure that we give ourselves the very best chance of winning and that ball going through the upright this weekend, so we're looking at all options available to us — including Chris."

Tomlin continued, saying Boswell is well aware of the situation on hand.

"That has been displayed to him," Tomlin said. "He'll be given an opportunity to play his way into this thing this weekend, and we'll go as I just outlined. That is the approach that we intend to take."

Later in the press conference, Tomlin was pressed on the issue, where he said the Steelers are bringing in outside options to evaluate.

"Yes, we will (hold kicking tryouts) but also, like I mentioned, 'Boz' is a viable option as well," he said. "I'm not going to get into the details, but I feel comfortable I gave you guys enough insight in terms of what we intend to do and why we're doing it and why we're taking the approach that we're taking.

"The minutiae — when people are coming in, who they are — I'm not getting into that in this forum. I came to this decision and we came to this decision in the last 24 hours or so."

Leading free-agent candidates at the position include Kai Forbath and Giorgio Tavecchio, who is 5-for-5 on the year in field-goal attempts and 8-for-8 on extra points. Tavecchio filled in for injured Falcons kicker Matt Bryant in three games this year, but with Bryant having returned Nov. 18, Tavecchio's status moving forward is uncertain.

For now, Tavecchio remains on the Falcons' 53-man roster.

Forbath most recently played for the Vikings in 2017, going 32-for-38 on field goals (84.2 percent) and 34-for-39 on extra points (87.2 percent).

Former Dolphins and Bills kicker Dan Carpenter and Penn State product Sam Ficken, who kicked briefly this year for the Rams with mixed success, also could get a look.

The Steelers face the Patriots (9-4) on Sunday at Heinz Field.

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