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2021 Pre-Draft Movements — Specialist

We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made by then. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Steelers had 10 starters or primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed only five of them, those being JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cameron Sutton, Zach Banner, Tyson Alualu, and Jordan Berry. They re-signed a number exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly Robert Spillane and J.C. Hassenauer, while signing Ray-Ray McCloud to a non-tender deal.

The deals of Ben RoethlisbergerCameron Heyward, Derek Watt, and Eric Ebron were restructured, while those of Steven Nelson and Vince Williams were terminated, the latter being re-signed. Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald retired.

Of note, the Steelers have added five players as unrestricted or street agents from outside of the organization, including three offensive linemen in Joe Haeg, Rashaad Coward, and former Steeler B.J. Finney. The group also includes linebacker Miles Killebrew and running back Kalen Ballage.

Position: Specialist

Total Positional Figure: 5

Offseason Additions: 0

Offseason Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Chris Boswell: Chris Boswell is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, even if he sometimes shanks an extra point attempt. But you live with it because of his consistency, barring the baffling aberration of 2018. He has even expanded his range, and is 9-for-12 from 50-plus, setting a team record with a 59-yarder in 2020. He also has the most makes from 50-plus in team history, with, comfortably, the best average among those who have attempted more than five. Jeff Reed’s 8-for-17 is second-best.

Kameron Canaday: You don’t want to know the name of your long snapper too well, on average. Unless he’s a proficient coverage player who records tackles, which is rare, it’s best that his name doesn’t come up during games. Canaday’s name, fortunately, doesn’t come up too much. In reality he is likely no better than average at his position.

Jordan Berry: Berry has been with the team for six years now. One gets the sense this relationship may be drawing to a close. After all, he was released before the season opener last year, and only re-signed once his replacement, Dustin Colquitt, struggled to an unacceptable level.

Corliss Waitman: A rookie undrafted free agent who is a punter with some ability to kick, Waitman spent the 2020 season on the practice squad in the first year of its expansion, though primarily, likely, due to COVID-19 as an emergency.

Christian Kuntz: Kuntz also spent some time on the practice squad last year as an emergency long snapper. He played long snapper in the XFL last year, though is also an outside linebacker.

Players Added: N/A

Players Deleted: N/A

Notes and Draft Outlook:

Matthew Wright also kicked in a few games for the Steelers last year while Boswell was dealing with some minor injuries. He has since earned a spot on the Lions’ 90-man roster for his performance. That is the extent of the drama at kicker, which is to say, there isn’t any.

The punter position, however, is another matter. After all, Pittsburgh released its current punter last year, and only re-signed him because his replacement proved to be inadequate. Based on their September call to let Berry go, it stands to reason that they will be looking to add competition at punter. Which means they could potentially use a draft pick on one this year.

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