I know what everyone was thinking after the Steelers’ second preseason game: “we need a new punter.” Since joining the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015, Jordan Berry has been a punter with a big leg, but inconsistent in his punts. In 2017, he went through the entire offseason unchallenged and wound up having an “okay” year. Some say he was underrated, while I believe he should have been offered competition. This offseason, the Steelers signed punter Matt Wile to compete. While I appreciate the effort, it obviously was destined to fail. Wile did not punt in 2017, but did in 2016 with the Falcons and Cardinals. He punted a total of 12 times for an average of 46 yards per punt. I don’t think either punter should be on the roster come week 1. Berry is as inconsistent as they come and when your team is pinned back, a drastic change in field position is needed for a defense that needs all the help it can get. Berry either booms one, or shanks it. This team can’t afford a shank when it matters most. Who else is out there if the Steelers move on from Berry?
***For a quick reference point, Berry is averaging 43.1 yards per punt
Free agent Punters
Brad Nortman (JAX) – in 2017: 87 punts, 3,835 yards, 44.1 avg, long of 65
Brad Wing (NYG) – in 2017: 95 punts, 4,189 yards, 44.1 avg, long of 69
Punter Battles to monitor (incumbents in italics)
In this section, we’re going to assume all of the incumbents win their respected battles.
Baltimore Ravens: Sam Koch vs. Kaare Vedvik
Vedvik handled kickoffs, punts and field goal duties in college and was a team captain. His punts in his senior year averaged 44 yards.
Stats from Herdzone.com : 26 of 59 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line … 16 of 59 punts were returned for a total of 62 yards … Ranked in the top 10 for fewest punt return yards allowed among punters who had 55 or more attempts.
Preseason Game 1: 8 punts for 385 yards, 48.1 avg, 4 inside 20
Preseason Game 2: 3 punts for 141 yards, 47.0 avg, 0 inside 20
Cleveland Browns: Britton Colquitt vs. Justin Vogel
In 2017, Vogel punted 71 times for 3,155 yards, 44.4 avg, and a long of 62. He was cut by Green Bay in May of 2018 in lieu of the Packers drafting JK Scott.
Preseason Game 1: 6 punts for 262 yards, 43.7 avg, 3 inside 20
Preseason Game 2: 4 punts for 173 yards, 43.3 avg, 1 inside 20
Houston Texans: Shane Lechler vs. Trevor Daniel
Daniel averaged 47.3 yards per punt at Tennessee and had 22 punts inside the 20. Only 1 game of his 2017 season did he average less than 45 yards per punt.
Preseason Game 1: 2 punts for 84 yards, 42.0 avg, 1 inside 20
Preseason Game 2: 3 punts for 166 yards, 55.3 avg, 1 inside 20
Los Angeles Chargers: Drew Kaser vs. Shane Tripucka
In 2017, Tripucka finished second in the NCAA with a punting average of 46.1 yards per punt. Per Chargers.com, as a junior, Tripucka set a school record with 27 punts inside-the-20 and did not have a single touchback on the season
Preseason Game 1: 2 punts for 105 yards, 52.5 avg, 1 inside 20
Preseason Game 2: 3 punts for 129 yards, 43.0 avg, 0 inside 20
New England Patriots: Ryan Allen vs. Corey Bojorquez
At New Mexico State, Bojorquez averaged 47.3 yards per punt. Through two games, he has not yet punted this preseason.
Ultimately, who to target?
After doing my research and analysis, Baltimore’s backup punter Kaare Vedvik is the most qualified, talented and versatile of the probable-available. Should the Steelers wait until he is probably cut, or maybe cut their losses with their current punters and offer the Ravens a late round pick?