We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had 15 primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed a number of them, those being Ramon Foster, Tyson Alualu, Anthony Chickillo, Daniel McCullers, and Jordan Berry. Significant unrestricted free agents who signed elsewhere were Le’Veon Bell, Jesse James, and L.J. Fort. They re-signed seven exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, and Xavier Grimble, as they await Mike Hilton’s signing.
Also of note were the release of Morgan Burnett, the trades of Antonio Brown and Marcus Gilbert, and three significant signings in free agency, adding starters at cornerback, inside linebacker, and potentially wide receiver in Steven Nelson, Mark Barron, and Donte Moncrief, respectively. Maurkice Pouncey also received a two-year contract extension.
Total Positional Figure: 4
Offseason Additions: 0
Chris Boswell: After making the Pro Bowl in 2017 and becoming one of the highest-paid kickers in the NFL, Boswell is fighting for his job this summer, the team likely forcing him to defer a $2.5 million roster bonus in the process. He missed a dozen kicks, including seven of 20 field goal attempt, last season.
Matt McCrane: Boswell suffered an injury prior to the season finale that put him on IR. McCrane is one of the kickers who competed against him shortly before that when the Steelers elected to keep him. McCrane was signed and kicked in the finale, making all three of his attempts, including the game winner.
Jordan Berry: While Berry has actually put up some of the better numbers in franchise history at punter, the truth is that their history at punter is not very good when looked at through a modern lens. And 2019 was a down year for him. But it doesn’t look like they want to hop back on the punter carousel they found themselves on for years after Danie Sepulveda’s 800th ACL tear.
Kameron Canaday: Canaday is entering his third season as the Steelers’ long snapper and he has generally been sufficient during that time. He is not as good as his predecessor was, but he hasn’t obviously shanked any snaps, though he has had a few penalties.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook: More than in just about any other year, the Steelers should seriously be in play at specialist heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. Even in 2017 when they selected long snapper Colin Holba in the sixth round, it wasn’t known at the time that Greg Warren was dealing with a chronic injury that might result in him retiring.
This year, we know the team has been very open about the fact that Boswell doesn’t have job security. I can’t recall the last time the Steelers went into an offseason with an open question at kicker. Punter? That’s a much different story. But they have had an answer at kicker at the start of the offseason every year for a good, long while, as their changes have happened mid-season, including Boswell.
Long story short, get ready for them to draft a kicker.