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How Will Steelers Handle New Need at Punter?

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Pittsburgh Steelers Punter Pressley Harvin III
Pittsburgh Steelers punter Pressley Harvin III during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves without a punter after Monday’s surprise release of Pressley Harvin III, who had been the team’s starting punter for the previous three seasons.

It seemed likely that the Steelers would look to upgrade upon Harvin this offseason, but now that desire will be an absolute need for the franchise. The question becomes, what type of resources are worth spending on a punter?

The Steelers drafted Harvin out of Georgia Tech with their seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The former Ray Guy Award winner was considered to be one of the top punters in his draft class. He was the only one drafted.

Harvin not working out for the Steelers makes that pick seem like a waste, but most of the best punters in the league in 2023 were drafted — and more highly than Harvin.

Bryan Anger was a third-round pick in 2012, Jake Camarda was a fourth-rounder in 2022. Michael Dickson was selected in the fifth round in 2018.

The Steelers could go down that road in 2024. Iowa punter Tory Taylor is considered the top punter in the draft class and could be an early third-day pick. Texas Tech’s Austin McNamara was the other punter at the Senior Bowl in Mobile and as nearly as good as Taylor.

Both of those players will likely be drafted, and if the Steelers want one of them, they’ll have to expend draft capital to land them.

The Steelers could also ply the waiver wire. Braden Mann, who the team claimed off the New York Jets before last season and spent the offseason in Pittsburgh before losing the job to Harvin and getting cut, finished with a 49.8 yards per punt average with the Philadelphia Eagles — seventh-best in the league.

Brad Wing, the Steelers’ former punter who saw five years of his career erased after a battle with substance abuse, was signed after a strong spring in the XFL when Harvin was hurt this season and produced a better kicking average. Wing finished the year on the Steelers’ practice squad, but was not re-signed after the season and has currently committed to playing in the UFL again this spring.

Someone like Wing or Mann could certainly do a better job than Harvin did in 2023, when he finished 32nd in the league in gross yards per punt.

They could also throw some money at the problem. Mann will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, as will Corey Bojorquez of the Cleveland Browns (eighth in gross average), Thomas Morstead of the New York Jets (11th), Rigoberto Sanchez of the Indianapolis Colts (12th) and Cameron Johnston of the Houston Texans (14th).

Even an expensive punter doesn’t break the bank. The highest paid punter in the league last season was Michael Dickson of the Seattle Seahawks. His deal averaged $3.675 million per season.

So the Steelers seem to have three options to replace Harvin, whether it be a rookie, a waiver-wire pickup or a top free agent. Giving Mike Tomlin’s preference, they could go down more than one of those roads.

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Edward Carmichael
Edward Carmichael
February 13, 2024 8:38 am

as a true Steelers fan, I don’t want to waste a 2024 draft pick on a punter

JNnnnnn
JNnnnnn
February 13, 2024 9:02 am

Matt Araiza he was cleared of all charges AND they said his phone records show he was not even near the house during the time incident and the dude can flat out punt

Dave
Dave
February 13, 2024 11:50 am

If our team is to compete with teams that have “phenom” type QB’s we need to excel in other areas and ST’s is an important aspect to gain an advantage. We have one of the best kickers in the game with Boz so adding a punter in the same caliber makes sense. I would only draft rookie Punters and Long-snappers in the 7th RD or with a nice UDFA contract. Our track record hasn’t been very good using higher valued draft capital on those positions.

William Maloni
William Maloni
February 13, 2024 12:14 pm

KC’s kicker is a free agent; use your cap space and outbid the Chiefs for him ($4M or $5M).

Greg Edgar
Greg Edgar
February 13, 2024 9:03 pm

Love the idea of Matt Araiza – he wasn’t even there. He deserves another chance. At least bring him in and give him a try out. Stealing the Chiefs punter is also a great idea.