It’s that time of year again. Free agency is creeping up in just a couple of weeks, so before we get there, we’ll get going over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, position by position, making an assessment of what kind of shape they’re in, trying to figure out how they might, or should, attack the roster on that basis.
The Steelers are likely to be subject to more change than they are used to this year, with more than a dozen players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, including numerous starters. Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement looms large over all discussions for the foreseeable future.
Total Positional Figure: 6
Chris Boswell: Boswell posted his third consecutive season completing 90 percent or more of his field goal attempts, breaking his own record of field goals made with 36. He also set a new team record for the longest field goal made at 59 yards.
Pressley Harvin III: Drafted in the seventh round last year, the punter Harvin unseated veteran incumbent Jordan Berry, but had a significantly trying season, both personally and professionally, during which both his father and grandmother passed away. He will be challenged entering year two.
Christian Kuntz: Beating out veteran incumbent long snapper Kameron Canaday, Kuntz completed his first season on a 53-man roster with no major marks against him. Beyond that, it’s hard to offer much analysis.
Sam Sloman: The Steelers originally signed the second-year kicker in early July, cutting him in the middle of training camp. He was signed to the practice squad in late November, but terminated two weeks later. He continued to bounce on and off the practice squad, and was signed to a futures deal at the end of the year.
Cameron Nizialek: Signed on Christmas Day to the Steelers’ practice squad, the day Harvin’s father passed away, and he spent some time away from the team. Corliss Waitman was signed to the 53-man roster. Nizialek was released two weeks later, but signed to a futures deal in late January.
Rex Sunahara: The long snapper spent two days on the practice squad in early December, and was never brought back before the end of the season. Yet they signed him to a futures deal the same time they did with the remainder of the practice squad players they were interested in retaining at the end of the year.
Suffice it to say that, as is par for the course, Boswell’s kicker position will not be contested in any meaningful fashion. While Kuntz could face some competition, the focus here is obviously going to be on the punter role.
The Steelers did stick by Harvin in the end, and he did have a decent game in the postseason to finish off the year, but there is little doubt that thy will bring in another punter whom they believe will provide him with necessary competition. I suspect that they will re-sign Waitman if presented the opportunity to do so. He is currently with the Broncos.