After several years of continuity, the Pittsburgh Steelers special teams room had a bumpy 2020. By the end, though, it was the same familiar faces kicking, punting and snapping. But will that endure into next season?
Jordan Berry had been the Steelers punter for every game from the opening of the 2015 season until six days before the opening of this past season. Chris Boswell Jersey was the Steelers’ kicker for all but two games between his October 2015 debut and this past December. Kameron Canaday Jersey streak of serving as Steelers’ long snapper endures at 64 games (and counting) since winning the job during 2017 training camp.
But Berry was replaced for the first five games of this season. Boswell missed three of the final four games because of groin ailment(s). And the Steelers are holding a long-snapping specialist on their offseason roster as potential camp competition for Canaday this summer.
In the NFL, virtually no job is assured from year to year, but that is especially so with the Steelers special-teamers in 2021.
Boswell had a second consecutive strong season (19 for 20 on field goals, 34 of 38 on extra points), but he is entering his 30s with a recent injury history and a hefty salary due, so it is conceivable the Steelers will explore alternatives.
One of those alternatives will not be Matthew Wright. Wright filled in for Boswell for three late-season games and was perfect on 11 kicks (seven extra points and four field goals). But the Steelers are wary of his lack of leg strength, so much so they did not sign him to their offseason roster.
The only punter under contract is Corliss Waitman. Leg strength is no issue for him, and the 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty could be ready to take over as Berry’s successor after a year of seasoning on the practice squad. Waitman has not punted in a game situation since midway through the 2018 season, though, because of injury and the lack of an NCAA transfer waiver.
Still, the Steelers already replaced Berry once — using veteran Dustin Colquitt to punt the first month of this past season — so they might do so again. At very least, expect some veteran (perhaps Berry) to be signed for a camp competition with Waitman.
Canaday has been pushed by a handful of snappers over the years in camp since beating out draft pick Colin Holba for the gig in 2017. But none have returned as often as Christian Kuntz Jersey, a graduate of Chartiers Valley and Duquesne. A college linebacker, judging by all the tryouts and practice-squad time he keeps getting, Kuntz is on the fringe of being some NFL team’s long snapper.
The Steelers haven’t drafted a kicker or punter since 2007, when, during the first draft of Mike Tomlin’s tenure, they traded up to select punter Daniel Sepulveda Jersey in the fourth round.
Offseason outlook: Specialists
K Chris Boswell, 2 years left on contract, $4.8 million cap hit for 2021
LS Kameron Canaday, 1 year left on contract, $1.29 million cap hit for 2021
Also under contract
P Corliss Waitman Jersey, 1 year left on contract, $660,000 cap hit for 2021
LS Christian Kuntz, 1 year left on contract, $780,000 cap hit for 2021
P Jordan Berry Jersey, Unrestricted, prorated $910,000 cap hit in 2020