The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Both Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry will be on the 53-man roster on opening day.
Explanation: The Steelers had a down year in the third phase of the game on nearly every unit, whether it was the kicking game, punting, or coverage, but the most egregious was obviously Chris Boswell’s play on field goals and extra points. Berry turned in perhaps his worst season when he should be heading in the opposite direction. Currently there are college free agents at both positions on the 90-man roster to compete with the veterans.
The Steelers don’t like to make changes ordinarily unless they have to. So as long as Boswell and Berry show a reasonable level of confidence during training camp and the preseason, it’s hard to say that they won’t be the starting kicker and punter, respectively.
The team already let Matt McCrane go, who was one of the kickers that they brought in to compete with Boswell late last season, and whom they signed to kick in the season finale after Boswell was put on injured reserve with an injury.
Boswell was one of the best kickers in the league just a year ago, and other kickers with a good track record have overcome a bad season before. As for Berry, there were some issues with the coverage play that shield him a bit from some criticism, though he has to do better.
And most importantly, the new players that they brought in actually have to be better.
With all that being said, the incumbents are two players who are trending in the wrong direction, and that is concerning to say the least. Boswell’s trend is just one season, but significant. Berry’s has been a couple of years in the making, and has a less overall positive track record.
Another significant point to add is that the Steelers can easily make further additions at kicker and punter between now and the start of the regular season. It’s not exactly uncommon for teams to find a new specialist from other teams’ roster cuts, or to make a trade when they believe they have two. That’s what the Steelers did with Brad Wing when they kept Berry in his first season.