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Steelers-By-Position: Specialists

The last in a position-by-position series in advance of the start of free agency on March 17.

SPECIALISTS (5)
Jordan Berry (P), Chris Boswell (PK), Kameron Canaday (LS), Chris Kuntz (LS), Corliss Waitman (P)
(Free Agent Scorecard: 1 unrestricted – Jordan Berry)

Take a look at the best photos taken of the Steelers specialists during the 2020 season

A LAST LOOK AT 2020
If the purpose of the move was to open up more salary cap space to get a contract extension done with Cam Heyward, it was a success. But if the purpose of the Dustin Colquitt-for-Jordan Berry switch last summer was to improve the team's punting, the move was a failure. And when the Steelers decided to cut ties with Colquitt after five games of the 2020 regular season, the guy they signed to replace him was Berry.

During his previous seasons as the Steelers' punter, Berry could frustrate with his inconsistency, or with the occasional clunker when the team needed a big punt to flip field position, but over the course of the 2020 season he also showed himself to be better than Colquitt. Berry averaged 45.8 yards on 62 punts – his highest gross average of his Steelers career – with 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line and three touchbacks. He ranked in the middle of the pack – 15th in the NFL among qualifying punters in gross average and 15th among qualifying punters in net average (40.5 yards), but again, he was better than Colquitt.

Chris Boswell missed three games because of groin/hip injuries in 2020, but he didn't miss much else. He made 19-of-20 field goal attempts (95 percent) and 34-of-38 PATs to continue a remarkable streak as a professional marred only by his sub-par 2018 season.

Kameron Canaday had no issues with his long-snapping throughout the season, with the only blocked kick coming via a violation of the leverage rule that was uncalled by the officiating crew.

Take a look at photographs of Steelers P Jordan Berry from the 2020 season

ONE STAT THAT STANDS OUT
With the exception of his one bad season – 15 games in 2018 when he converted only 65 percent of his field goals – Boswell has made 133-of-146 field goals, which comes out to a 91.1 percent conversion rate, while spending his career outdoors in the Northeast and with Heinz Field as his home stadium.

Take a look at photographs of Steelers K Chris Boswell from the 2020 season

A LOOK AHEAD TO 2021
Canaday has not committed the cardinal sin of NFL long-snappers and priced himself out of a job, and he should be able to hold off the competition of Chris Kuntz during the summer. There currently is no competition for Boswell on the roster, and barring injury there seems to be no realistic scenario in which he loses his job.

Yes, the Steelers tried and failed to upgrade themselves at punter and ultimately went back to Berry, but that doesn't mean they are satisfied with him. And he will be an unrestricted free agent on March 17, and punters can end up like long-snappers who price themselves out of a job.

At least the presence on their roster of Corliss Waitman indicates the Steelers are keeping an open mind about the issue of looking for an upgrade, or maybe the team is simply preparing itself in the event Berry decides he has gotten a better offer elsewhere. During his final two seasons at South Alabama, Waitman averaged 43.5 yards on 137 punts, and the Steelers must have seen something in him they found promising to keep him on the practice squad throughout the 2020 season.

But before Waitman will be able to take Berry's roster spot, he's going to have to show himself to be an NFL-caliber holder, because if he messes with Boswell's performance with his handling of Canaday's snaps, he won't survive the preseason.

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