By Jeremy Hritz
Chris Boswell is signed through the 2022 season, and then will have to ink a new deal with the Steelers, which most assuredly will happen. Boswell has been Mr. Consistency for the team and has delivered on critical, game-winning field goals with poise and focus. While his kickoffs are a bit inconsistent, and you could even argue the same for his extra points, Boswell is money when it comes to field goals. You cannot overstate the importance of this, especially when kicking at Heinz Field, which is arguably the most difficult place to kick in the NFL. Boswell makes the kicking game a position of strength for the Steelers, and gives the team an opportunity in every close game.
At punter, the Steelers have painted themselves into a corner, putting all of their eggs in the basket of Pressley Harvin, who had an inconsistent and frustrating rookie season. While Harvin showed elite leg strength and ball placement at times, these glimpses were sadly overshadowed by shanks and ill-timed duds that gave opposing offenses great field position. Harvin was undoubtedly dealing with challenging issues this year, with the deteriorating health of his father, and his ultimate passing, which certainly made it difficult for the 23-year old to focus. During the time when Harvin was experiencing his loss, the team signed Corliss Waitman, who played extremely well, and there was thought he would stick with the team and be brought into training camp to compete for the starting job in 2022. This failed to materialized, as the Steelers cut Waitman prior to the Wildcard game against the Chiefs, and he was quickly picked up by the Denver Broncos. Now, the Steelers have to hope Harvin dedicates himself to improving his consistency this offseason; otherwise, the punting game will be a weakness on special teams in 2022. You can expected an UDRFA to be brought into compete with Harvin in camp, but at the end of the day, barring exceptional play, Harvin will be the guy.
Christian Kuntz will be the team’s long snapper, as he recently signed a one-year deal. If you remember, he replaced Kameron Canaday to begin the 2021 season.
In terms of return men, Ray Ray McCloud will probably be re-signed and serve as the primary kick and punt returner. McCloud has been a good return man, though he has shown some issues with ball security. He has yet to break one for a score, but maybe 2022 is the year he is able to do so.
Special teams is one area where things will stay intact for 2022, and with all of the forthcoming change next season, that’s not a terrible idea.