Player: Jordan Berry
Experience: 6 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2020 Salary Cap Hit: $485,294
2020 Season Breakdown:
Jordan Berry came onto the scene for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 when he gave former Steelers punter Brad Wing a run for his money. At the least, he made the competition close enough that when the New York Giants offered a seventh-round pick for Wing, they pulled the trigger and moved on with the first-year undrafted free agent.
Outside of the start of the 2020 season, he has been the Steelers’ punter since then. But the fact that he wasn’t their punter at the start of last year is a major red flag. Although he made the initial 53-man roster, he was let go a short time later, the team picking up veteran Dustin Colquitt instead.
Colquitt only lasted five games before Mike Tomlin decided that he had seen enough, and they let him go. As a result, Berry, who had not found a roster spot elsewhere in the interim, was brought back to finish out the season through 11 games.
In actuality, he put up some of the best numbers of his career, though league-wide, they remain middling. His gross punting average was 45.8, actually the highest of his career, but it only tied for 18th in the league. His net punting average was 40.5, just a hair off of his best and the team record, but again, it ranked 18th in the NFL last season.
Berry did have a top-10 figure in the percentage of his punts that landed inside of the 20. He did have three touchbacks, which is a bit high for him, but far from abnormal, but nearly 40 percent of his punts were returned, 22 in total for 242 yards, the ninth-most return yardage of any punter. While his hangtime leaves something to be desired, obviously that’s also on the coverage team.
Free Agency Outlook:
As far as free agency goes, he’s not going to have a market, most likely. He could theoretically be signed by some team as a veteran second leg for the offseason and to potentially compete in training camp. Realistically speaking, that might be where Berry would be if the Steelers do re-sign him.
It’s a huge red flag that they let him go. We didn’t see training camp, but he must have struggled to some degree if they cut him in favor of Colquitt, who didn’t even have a great season in 2019 in the first place and was certainly no upgrade.
The problem is that alternatives aren’t easy to come by without some expenditure. Between Daniel Sepulveda and Berry were Jeremy Kapinos, Mat McBriar, Wing, Zoltan Mesko, Drew Butler, and possibly even another name or two I’m forgetting. It’s better to have middling stability than consistent instability.