Homecoming on Hold as Ex-Bengals WR Tyler Boyd Doesn’t Look Like an Option for Steelers

Tyler Boyd's hometown of Pittsburgh felt like his next stop after his contract with the Cincinnati Bengals ended, but that no longer appears to be the case.

The most likely landing spot for Cincinnati Bengals free agent wide receiver Tyler Boyd — and the most troublesome for many of his former team’s fans — appears to no longer be an option.

According to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, “the ship appears to have sailed” on Boyd joining the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh always felt like the most likely landing spot for Boyd, who was born in the city, played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh, held youth camps there even during his time in Cincinnati, and spoke glowingly of his hometown any time the subject was broached.

Ex-Bengals WR Tyler Boyd a Long Shot in Pittsburgh

And the Steelers could use more receiving weapons after ranking 25th in passing offense in 2023. But Kaboly, in responding to a reader question as part of a mailbag, called the obvious pairing a “long shot” this late in the free agent period.

“From what I have been told, Boyd was extremely interested in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the free-agency process, but the offer wasn’t something he was comfortable with,” Kaboly wrote. “Boyd has at least had preliminary interest from the Chiefs, Chargers, Dolphins, Lions and 49ers. I am pretty sure the ship with the Steelers has sailed.”

The Bengals drafted Boyd out of Pittsburgh in the second round in 2016. His first moment of professional adversity came in Week 2 of his rookie year when he fumbled at the Steelers’ 33-yard line with 1:50 left in the game and the Bengals driving for a potential game-tying score.

Boyd would go on to play eight seasons in Cincinnati, amassing 513 receptions for 6,000 yards and 31 touchdowns. He led the Bengals in receptions and receiving yards in three consecutive seasons from 2018-20.

In addition to bridging the coaching tenures of Marvin Lewis and Zac Taylor, Boyd’s tenure spanned a pair of superstar receivers in A.J. Green and Ja’Marr Chase.

Taylor immediately identified Boyd as one of the core pieces he wanted to build his roster around after taking the job in February 2019.

Five months into Taylor’s tenure as head coach, Boyd signed a four-year, $43 million extension. That deal expired last month, and the Bengals were content to let him test his market value.

It always felt as though a reunion in Cincinnati could be in play — possibly a one-year, incentive-laden deal — if Boyd was unable to find a contract to his liking elsewhere. And the stalemate in Pittsburgh could move that closer to reality.

Boyd has a strong connection with quarterback Joe Burrow and often has referred to receivers Tee Higgins and Chase as his brothers.

And in January, a few days before the season finale and what Boyd knew likely would be his last game with Cincinnati, backup quarterback Jake Browning interviewed Boyd’s interview session with reporters to make a point.

“Hey, real quick,” Browning said as he sidled up to Boyd. “(He’s) been my locker mate the whole year, been a big part of helping me bounce back when I throw three picks in a game and I think an underrated part of the whole locker room. In the receiver room, obviously, we have a ton of talent in there, but he’s a big, unsung hero of the locker room.

“And I hope he’s back,” Browning continued. “But wherever he goes, someone is gonna be lucky to have him in the locker room.”

After talking about how much Browning’s gesture meant to him, Boyd talked about the possibility of remaining in Cincinnati and whether he would want to.

“Sure,” he said. “I spent my whole career here. They gave me my first opportunity. They drafted me here. I’ll never not want to come back.

“I feel like I did everything I could,” Boyd added. “I may be back, I may not. I just don’t know.”

And three weeks into free agency, he still doesn’t.

KEEP READING: Cincinnati Bengals’ Top 30 Visits Tracker Shows Interest in QB, TE

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