With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: K Shaun Suisham
Stock Value: Down
Were this exactly a year ago, this would be a very different article. At the time, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham seemed to be about as embedded as you could expect any kicker to be around the league.
He had been among the most accurate kickers in the league for three straight years. He was the most accurate kicker, in fact, in team history. He was under a long-term, high-dollar contract precisely because he was so successful, and so important to what the Steelers were hoping to accomplish.
But a sort of a perfect storm has taken place since then that has put him in the rather undesirable position of having to re-compete for a spot that was his, in which he was virtually entrenched, and doing so as the perceived underdog.
Suisham, obviously, tore his ACL during the team’s opening preseason game while he was attempting to assist on a tackle on a kickoff. The rather unfortunate and unnecessary decision promptly ended his season and led to a string of events that would produce, ultimately, what will be his summer competition.
Initially signed was Garrett Hartley, with whom the Steelers seemed content after being signed following a workout with three kickers. The veteran, however, suffered a hamstring injury on a kickoff that was significant enough to warrant putting him on injured reserve—later cleared—and search for a new kicker.
This put the team in a position in which they felt it was best to address the position in a highly serious matter, prompting the trade for Josh Scobee. But after Scobee floundered for four games, missing on four of his 10 total field goal attempts, he was promptly released and yet another series of tryouts for kickers was scheduled.
Among the last group of tryouts was Chris Boswell, who was given the contract in spite of the fact that he had never kicked in the league before. But he went on to have a very successful season, breaking the team’s rookie/first-year record for points scored and hitting on all seven of his postseason field goal attempts.
Suisham finds himself now approaching his mid-30s coming off a knee injury and with a now-seemingly-bloated contract when compared with the league-minimum one second-year kicker Boswell has on tow—the considerably younger and healthier kicker.
The failure of Scobee opened the door for Boswell’s opportunity, one he would have never had without Suisham getting injured. Suisham was the sure thing, but not the ideal thing. The ideal is the young, the cheap, and the healthy. You don’t get rid of the sure thing unless you have to; but Boswell got the chance to show just how sure he can be, and right now you have to think that he is favored to keep what is now his job as the incumbent kicker.