On Tuesday the Denver Broncos signed punter Riley Dixon to a two-year contract, which prompted them to withdraw their $940,000 tender to exclusive rights free agent punter Corliss Waitman. The withdrawn tender means that Waitman is now a free agent, giving the Pittsburgh Steelers the opportunity to try to re-sign him, if they so choose.
Recall that Waitman, 27, appeared in two games for the Steelers at the end of the 2021 season while Pressley Harvin was on bereavement leave following the death of his father. Waitman performed admirably (seven punts for 365 yards, an average of 52.1 yards per kick); nevertheless, the Steelers chose to waive him, even after Harvin returned to the lineup and struggled in the team’s regular-season finale.
Corliss Waitman Won Denver’s Punting Job in 2022
Pittsburgh might well have signed Waitman to a reserve/futures contract for 2022, except the Broncos claimed him on waivers, and he went on to win Denver’s punting job last season. And, truth be told, Waitman outperformed Harvin in 2022, averaging 46.6 yards per kick as per Harvin’s 44.5 yards per punt, according to NFL.com’s punting stats. Waitman also had a better net average, having punted a whopping 96 times, with Harvin called upon a relatively modest 69 times.
That said, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Steelers sign Waitman to compete with Harvin this summer, especially in light of the fact that Waitman has spent extensive time in Pittsburgh. In fact, he was on the team’s practice squad for the entire 2020 season after signing as a rookie undrafted free agent.
Harvin, 24, is entering his third season in the league, having been selected in the 7th round (No. 254 overall) in the 2021 draft. Harvin is scheduled to earn a $940,000 salary this season, and would count $960,183 against the cap, according to overthecap.com.
If Harvin were to be released or traded after June 1, 2023, it would trigger a dead money cap charge of just $20,183. His rookie contract is scheduled to expire after the 2024 season, and calls for him to be paid a salary of $1.055 million in 2024.
In 2022, Harvin fended off a challenge from former Atlanta Falcons punter Cameron Nizialek, with Nizialek having been signed to a one-year reserve/futures contract in Jan. 2022. It’s a near-certainty that the Steelers will bring in another punter to compete with Harvin again. In Jan. 2023 the Steelers worked out a pair of punters — former Carolina Panthers punter Joseph Charlton and ex-Wake Forest punter Dom Maggio — but have yet to sign either.
In 32 career games over two years, Harvin has punted 139 times and averaged 43.6 yards per kick, as per Pro Football Reference.
Steelers Re-Sign CB James Pierre
In other news from March 21, the Steelers announced that they have signed 4th-year cornerback James Pierre to a one-year deal.
Pierre, 26, was a pending restricted free agent after the 2022 season but the team declined to tender him, making him an unrestricted free agent.
He joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic in 2020 and earned a spot on the 53-man roster as a rookie. Since then he has played in a total of 50 games (six starts) and has recorded 86 tackles and two interceptions, with three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.