The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Shaun Suisham
Experience: 11 Years
It’s not every season that you get the opportunity to recap the year of three separate kickers, but that is the scenario in which the Steelers found themselves last year, in a series of events that has been well-documented on this site and on others.
Shaun Suisham was, of course, supposed to be the kicker of record heading into the 2016 season, as he has been since midway through the 2010 season, when he was signed as a mid-season replacement after releasing their then-current kicker. 2015 featured yet another mid-season release, but that doesn’t figure to happen again this season.
Of course, Suisham never had the opportunity to kick in the regular season last year, as the veteran kicker tore his ACL in an attempt to participate in a tackle during the Hall of Fame game, the preseason opener, on a turf field that the Steelers later questioned regarding its condition and maintenance.
Between that point and a month into the season, the Steelers shuffled through four kickers before finally hitting on the last one, Chris Boswell, who was good on 29 of 32 regular season field goal attempts and was perfect on all seven postseason field goal attempts.
Boswell and Suisham both figure to go to camp to compete for the kicking job. While it is true, and obvious, that Boswell has many factors on his side—he is significantly younger by verging on a decade, he is not coming off an ACL tear, he has already shown he can be successful, and he has proven to be poised (oh, and he will be cheaper by millions)—Suisham and his experience is not to be dismissed.
Since joining the Steelers, the 34-year-old has become the most accurate kicker in team history, registering an accuracy percentage of above 90 percent in four of his five seasons, matching Boswell’s 29 of 32 in 2014 and bettering it with 30 of 32 in 2013. He has been especially adept at hitting in the money area between 30 and 49 yards, which is where Boswell’s misses fell.
If this is the final season for Suisham in Pittsburgh, then it will be unfortunate for him to lose his job because he got hurt, understandable as it may be. Because of his strong body of course over the course of his past five seasons, however, he should not be out of work for long, and the Steelers may even be able to net a draft pick out of it.