The Chicago Bears have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers punter to a future contract for the 2024 season, according to the NFL transactions page for Tuesday.
Waitman, 28, has not been with a team since he was released by the New England Patriots on Oct. 4. He originally signed with the Pats on March 23 and spent all offseason with the team. He was released at the end of training camp, losing a battle to rookie sixth-round draft pick Bryce Baringer. The Patriots brought him back to be a part of the practice squad, but then cut him loose a month later without appearing in a game.
Waitman first signed with Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and spent his rookie season on their practice squad. He spent some time with the Las Vegas Raiders and Patriots in 2021 before the Steelers signed him off the New England practice squad when Pressley Harvin III went on bereavement leave.
In two games, he averaged 52.1 yards per punt, and when he was waived upon Harvin’s return, he was claimed by the Denver Broncos. He was Denver’s starting punter in 2022, and averaged 46.6 yards per punt that season.
In his career, Waitman has averaged 46.9 yards and 41.5 net yards per punt. He has had 30.1% of his kicks be downed inside the 20 and only 6.8% go for touchbacks.
This season with the Steelers, Harvin has averaged 43.8 yards and 39.1 net yards per punt, with 38.5% inside the 20 and 7.7% as touchbacks.
But despite better numbers, it’s not the Steelers that are bringing in Waitman for a look in 2024. Instead, it’s the Bears, who used a seventh-round pick on Trenton Gill out of NC State in 2022. Gill averaged 46.1 yards and 38.0 net yards per punt this season, with 26.9% of his kicks downed inside the 20 and 11.9% going for touchbacks.