Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: P Corliss Waitman
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: In organization-shaking news, backup punter Corliss Waitman was claimed off of waivers yesterday by the Denver Broncos, ending his ties with the Steelers unless or until he is let go again.
The Steelers originally signed Waitman in 2020 as a college free agent punter. They carried him on their practice squad that season pretty much all year, if memory serves, and re-signed him to a futures contract after the season ended.
However, they let him go after they drafted Pressley Harvin III in the seventh round, knowing that the rookie would already be competing with incumbent Jordan Berry for the job, and, well, three’s a crowd. The team ultimately decided to go with Harvin, Berry going on to have a solid season for the Minnesota Vikings.
Waitman eventually found his way to the New England Patriots’ practice squad; after Harvin’s father passed away on Christmas Day, the day before a game, the Steelers signed Waitman. He played in the next two games, and performed at or above the line, posting strong punting averages in both gross and net yards.
However, the team decided to go back to Harvin once both were again available, and their rookie punted in the regular-season finale—having quite a bad game. Head coach Mike Tomlin said heading into the postseason that he was in no hurry to decide which of the two he would play.
He ultimately decided to go with Harvin, releasing Waitman in order to make room on the 53-man roster for wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. I’m guessing that that is not what they wanted to happen, but it’s the risk you take.
My money is on the Steelers hoping that they could sign him to a Reserve/Future contract yet again and have Waitman and Harvin compete for the job this summer. It’s still possible—there’s no guarantee that Waitman lasts very long with the Broncos, but he’ll need to be cut loose again for that to happen. They do have a veteran punter in Sam Martin, so he’s no shoe-in to win any jobs based on a two-game body of work.