Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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 move forward.
Player: P Jordan Berry
Stock Value: Up
It seems at times that Jordan doesn’t have Berry many fans (see what I did there?), but the fact of the matter is that he is the closest thing to consistency that the Steelers have had in a long time. In fact, by the standards of punting performance from the last time they had a consistent punter, Berry’s numbers would actually be good, even very good.
Unfortunately for him, the standards have risen dramatically, and we now find that, even while he puts up some of the best numbers the Steelers have ever produced in team history, they still often rank toward the middle of the pack in the NFL, if not lower.
But it’s not like there has often been much competition for him. This year, the Steelers signed Corliss Waitman out of South Alabama, who is a rookie at 24 years old. He doesn’t have a particularly eye-popping college resume.
And he’s coming in during a year in which there is a viral pandemic. Danny Smith hasn’t been able to chew gum in his face at all yet, let alone actually work on technique with him on the field. If a rookie punter has any chance of winning a job, without just naturally being exceptionally good, then he better be able to put in the time.
That’s why I have Berry’s stock up. Not only is his only current challenger a player with a fairly underwhelming background, the nature of the offseason itself also highly favors staying with the veteran. That also plays into the kicking game, since Berry is Chris Boswell’s holder.
Berry might not set the world on fire, but other than some unusual quirks last season—being unable to hear an abort call for a fake punt, then fumbling another punt—you can’t really make the argument that he has played a meaningful factor in many of the team’s losses while he’s been here. I don’t know that he’s really helped win many games, either, but I’d really just take not costing games at this point.