The Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran free agent punter Brian Moorman a few days after the 2013 NFL Draft and the consensus at the time of his signing was that he was being brought in to push second-year punter Drew Butler in training camp. However, as Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out on Saturday, Moorman\’s resume, combined with his link to Steelers new special teams coach Danny Smith, might mean the organization really doesn\’t have much faith in Butler at all.
Moorman, who is entering his 13th year in the league, played for Smith for three seasons from 2001-2003 when both were with the Buffalo Bills. He is a former two-time Pro Bowler and coming off of a good 2012 season that included him being a member of both the Bills and the Dallas Cowboys.
Moorman told Fittipaldo that one of the reasons why he chose to sign with Pittsburgh is because he has never made it to the playoffs during his long career, and he thinks the Steelers can remedy that for him provided he beats out Butler for the job. Another reason why Moorman chose to sign is because he feels like he will be given a fair chance to win the job.
“Come in, and we\’ll have a competition, and we\’ll see where that takes us,” is what Moorman was told by both Smith and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, according to Fittipaldo.
In 12 games with the Cowboys last season, Moorman averaged 44.8 yards per punt with a 38.9 yard net average. Butler, on the other hand, averaged 43.8 yards per punt with a 37.8 net average. Of Moorman\’s 56 punts last season with the Cowboys, 24 (42.9%) of them were returned with only three going for touchbacks. Of Butler\’s 77 punts with the Steelers last season, 30 (39%) were returned with six going for touchbacks.
In addition to speaking with Moorman, Fittipaldo also talked to Butler, who says he welcomes the competition.
“I fully expected competition,” Butler said. “Everyone competes at every position. To bring in a guy like Brian, his resume speaks for itself. I\’m excited to compete.”
While Butler might welcome the competition, it will really be the first time that he faces any as he was pretty much handed the job last year because of a back injury suffered by fellow punter Jeremy Kapinos early on in training camp.
This will certainly be a training camp battle to watch this year when the team gets to Latrobe, and it really could go either way. In fact, it is probably fair to speculate that Moorman is the front-runner for the job right now.