Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: K Matthew Wright
Stock Value: Up
The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed to have come to a decision yesterday about their plans at the kicker position for the near future. After retaining Matt McCrane from last season, they also signed Matthew Wright as a college free agent following the draft.
Both were set to participate in the rookie minicamp that will be held over the weekend, but the Steelers released McCrane yesterday, evidently content to move forward with Wright as the challenger into the summer for Chris Boswell.
Unless there is something more to the decision to release McCrane than is currently known, which for the moment doesn’t appear to be the case, I do find it surprising that the team didn’t decide to allow the two kickers to compete during rookie minicamp to decide which they wanted to carry.
That is what they did in 2015 when Richie Leone and Jordan Berry participated in the event at the punter position. Berry obviously ultimately won that competition, and was carried over Brad Wing, who was traded to the Giants.
Perhaps the deciding factor was just the matter of leg. McCrane admittedly does not have the biggest leg in the NFL, as exhibited on his kickoffs. The Steelers have never been a team who has preferred to risk the field position loss of long-range field goals, but they seemed to have been more willing to do so in 2017 when Boswell was successful from distance.
It remains possible that the Steelers can still find somebody other than Wright between now and the start of training camp to compete against the incumbent, but for now, it seems they have determined which is the best challenger from the current roster, in their evaluations.
There’s a good chance there will be another kicker in rookie minicamp anyway, since the Steelers still haven’t actually released their roster for the event. There will be a large number of tryout players participating.