Player: Jordan Berry
Free Agent Status: Restricted – Re-Signed
2017 Salary Cap Hit: $615,000
2017 Season Breakdown:
It’s not the easiest nor most exciting thing to do to break down a season overview for a punter, which admittedly tends to be something best understood by those who actually specialize in evaluating special teams play (and those people are out there), but the Steelers’ Jordan Berry turned in a fairly representative season for himself in 2017.
Representative, however, doesn’t mean great. It actually doesn’t even necessarily mean good, but it was at least average. By an large, if you look at his numbers from this past season, they tend to fall within the mid-ranges of the league.
It is fair to point out that Pro Football Focus was a pretty decent fan of his, however. They gave him an overall grade of 27 in 2017, which ranked 10th at the position, in between some of the big names, Johnny Hekker at nine and Sam Koch at 11.
Berry’s average punt distance was the second-lowest in the league among qualified punters, ahead of only Ryan Quigley, who actually graded out better, with 43.2 yards per punt. Berry ranked 24th in net yards at 39.8, which was actually the second-best net average recorded in team history, bested only by himself a year ago. That honestly says more about the team’s punting history, and the evolution of the position, than it does about him.
Still, only 35,9 percent of his punts were returned, which was the sixth-best percentage in the league. Only two punters had fewer than his two touchbacks. But his 28 kicks inside the 20 ranked just 21st, though it has to be noted that he had among the fewest punts among starting punters with 64, while others had 90 or more.
Free Agency Outlook:
Contrary to my colleagues, I do not currently view Berry as a top 10 talent at his position, but rather somebody who is in the middle of the pack. Consistency is an issue, though that can be said for just about all but the elite punters, but most concerning for me is the consistency of his hangtime.
Still, he is young and has ample opportunity to continue to improve. It’s been a long time since the Steelers have had anything resembling stability at punter, and the last time that they did, with Daniel Sepulveda, he showed improvement as his career went on until his knees tore themselves apart.
That is why the Steelers were willing to pay him more than double his total career earnings up to this point. A pending restricted free agent, he was re-signed to a one-year deal worth $1,887,000 with no bonus or guaranteed money, according to Over the Cap. He had previously earned a total of nearly $1.6 million over the course of his first three seasons.