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2022 NFL free agency: Patriots lose return man Gunner Olszewski to Steelers on reported two-year, $4.2 million deal

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New England Patriots Vs. Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots have lost yet another former undrafted free agent this offseason.

Former All-Pro punt returner Gunner Olszewski will leave New England to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a two-year deal worth $4.2 million deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Olszewski, 25, originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Bemidji State University in 2019. After making the position switch from cornerback to wide receiver, he settled into a return man role that he would hold onto for the better part of three seasons with the team. His best season would come in 2020 as he was named the First Team All-Pro return man after leading the NFL with 17.3 yards per punt return. That mark still holds up as the Patriots franchise record.

Though he played an important role on special teams, Olszewski was never able to crack the rotation on offense, seeing his offensive snap count numbers drop in each of his three years with the team and totaling nine career receptions.

As a former undrafted free agent, New England had the option to tender Olszewski and increase their chances of retaining his services. They could have either used the first-round tender at a cost of $5.562 million or second-round tender at a cost of $3.986 million, or gone with the original round tender which would have given them the right of first refusal. If a team did not sign Olszewski to an offer sheet, it would have cost New England $2.433 million.

Evidently New England felt comfortable letting him test the open market where he cashed in with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is undergoing a number of changes on the offensive side of the ball which could give Olszewski a chance to prove that he can contribute as a wide receiver.