As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2020 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
Corliss Waitman/P – 6’2 210
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to add about Waitman after his rookie season, spending his first year on the practice squad. What made 2020 notable for him was the fact the Steelers carried him on the practice squad in the first place. In past years, carrying extra specialists within that group was almost unheard of, especially for Pittsburgh. But he occupied a spot for two reasons.
One, the NFL expanded practice squad spots from ten to to sixteen, allowing larger rosters for the COVID season. And just like we wrote yesterday with LS Christian Kuntz, having that backup specialist was important in case of a last-minute positive/inconclusive test that ruled the starter ineligible. For most of the season, teams who signed outside free agents past Tuesday wouldn’t gain clearance for that week’s game, giving them miserable options if they didn’t have a backup. That’s what happened to the Denver Broncos, forced to start rookie WR Kendall Hinton at quarterback after an outbreak in their room.
So Waitman was the emergency option the Steelers never had to turn to. There was a question if he would get an opportunity early in the season following Dustin Colquitt’s struggles. But instead of turning to the rookie, Pittsburgh rang Jordan Berry’s phone and brought him back after releasing Colquitt. Berry finished the season with a career-best 45.8 yard average.
Berry is scheduled to be a free agent once the new league year begins March 17th. My expectation is the Steelers will re-sign him because of his solid 2020 season but his job isn’t secure. If Pittsburgh doesn’t add a punter, Waitman will be his in-house competition for training camp. He’ll enter as the underdog and there’s always the chance the team ends up with an out-of-house option for Week One, as was the case with Colquitt. But Waitman’s goal and hope is to be carried through the summer and get to camp in the first place. The next game he appears in, even preseason, will be his first in quite some time. The last time he appeared in a game was November 23rd, 2018 at South Alabama.
The odds of him appearing in a regular season game are slim but I won’t put them at impossible. Clearly, there’s something about him they like to keep him around this long. Fingers crossed we’re at Latrobe this summer timing his hangtimes.