2016 Steelers Pre-Free Agency Positional Review: Specialists

We’re now into March, and that means that the new league year will be upon us shortly, and when that time comes, the floodgates to free agency will open—not that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be major players when it comes to signing outside free agents, as they tend to keep themselves busy in retaining their own players.

But before we get to that period, it’s time to take a look at the Steelers’ offseason roster as it appears to be shaping up as we hit the start of the new league year, at which time the team will have a couple of dozen players hitting the open market.

As with every other team, the Steelers have already made some roster tweaks, signing several players to Reserve/Futures contracts, tenders, and other sorts of contract, while also making some deletions after they waived a handful of players, so here is a position-by-position look at how the team looks heading into free agency.

Position: Specialists

Total Positional Figure: 6

Additions: 2

Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Shaun Suisham: In deference to the veteran, Shaun Suisham is listed first. The recently officially American citizen has been the Steelers’ primary kicker since midway through the 2010 season and in that time has become the most accurate kicker in team history. But an ACL tear in the preseason opener wiped out his 2015 season and opened the doors for competition.

Chris Boswell: Let’s not forget that Chris Boswell was the Steelers’ fourth kicker. He was signed four weeks into the 2015 season after Josh Scobee was released due to ineffectiveness. The then first-year player proceeded to have an encouraging season, making 29 of 32 field goal attempts, and then made seven of seven attempts in the postseason. His youth and affordability—not to mention health—are major factors to his advantage.

Greg Warren: For two straight seasons now, the Steelers have taken it upon themselves to get long snapper Greg Warren’s annual one-year veteran-minimum contract out of the way early in the offseason process. Although he is beginning to get up there in age, there is no reason to believe that he is going anywhere this season, or that there will even be competition.

Jordan Berry: I have highlighted the punter carousel a few times in the recent past. Jordan Berry is the most recent punter, and he is hoping to be the one to make the ride stop. But he knows well how easy it is to lose his job. After all, he just took somebody’s job last year—sort of, since his opponent was traded.

Players Added:

Ty Long: Let’s have some real talk right now. Ty Long is the third-team kicker on a team that has two kickers that kick better than 90 percent of their field goals. He’s a first-year player who is here for rookie minicamp.

Matt Dooley: The same can be said of long snapper Matt Dooley, who like so many other long snappers in recent years should have no ambitions of unseating Warren. He is here for the rookie minicamp.

Offseason Strategy: The most immediate move will be to sign a rookie or first-year punter, of course. Beyond that, they could bring in a legitimate competitor for Berry if that is not found via the aforementioned route. Finally, they should be expected to let the offseason determine if Boswell’s first year was not a fluke, and hang on to Suisham until that is determined. Ideally, the veteran and his contract can be traded for a low-round compensation.

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