With the 2018 season completely in the books and 2019 staring us down just around the corner, it’s time to pause and take stock of the current state of the Pittsburgh Steelers by looking at their roster as it stands now, going position by position.
The new league year officially begins on March 13, and coincides with the start of free agency. Between now and then, the Steelers figure to make a couple more decisions about what the roster will look like, including the signing of a couple more of their pending unrestricted free agents. There are a few other loose ends to tie up before then as well.
Total Positional Figure: 4
Chris Boswell: Oh boy…Pro Bowler to nearly released in less than a year’s time. 2018 was not a good season for Chris Boswell. In fact, he was arguably the worst kicker in the league, at least among those who were not fired, but he did become one of the highest-paid kickers in NFL history on the strength of his excellent 2017 season.
The Steelers have already guaranteed that Boswell’s job will be challenged. That includes Matt McCrane, who kicked in the finale after Boswell suffered an injury, but it was also suggested that they can bring in multiple additional legs to compete. Don’t be surprised if they draft a kicker. They do have three sixth-round picks.
Jordan Berry: Heading into the 2018 season, it really felt like the Steelers might have found their core specialist group with Boswell, Berry, and Canaday. But none of them really had a good year, and Berry is about to be a free agent. I still think they will re-sign him, but who knows at this point. His net and gross punting average continue to range from middling to toward the bottom of the league, but even his directional punting slumped a year ago.
Kameron Canaday: An exclusive rights free agent, Canaday has done an okay job as the long snapper, but really nothing exceptional. He even managed to be flagged multiple times for holding—in the same game. Not what you want from the position. You want to forget he exists.
Matt McCrane: McCrane was originally brought in among other kickers late in the year in an open competition when Boswell’s job was under threat. They chose to keep Boswell at the time, but brought McCrane back when he was injured. He made all three field goal attempts in the season finale, including a 47-yarder and the game-winner in a 16-13 victory.
Offseason Strategy: Re-sign Berry but add competition everywhere.
I’m really not excited about the idea of using draft picks on any of these positions, but if they draft a kicker or punter late with an extra pick, I promise I won’t cry. They need to add competition in some form or fashion, because what they currently have was ‘below the line’ in 2018, and you can’t count on punters and especially kickers to bounce back.