For a brief period in time it seemed like undrafted free agent Corliss Waitman was being groomed to possibly take over for Jordan Berry as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ punter. After all, the team kept Waitman on its practice squad for the entire 2020 season, and then re-signed him to a one-year Reserve/Future contract for 2021.
Corliss Waitman Will Challenge A.J. Cole
Now, almost three months later, Waitman, 26, has signed on with the Las Vegas Raiders, giving him the opportunity to compete with AJ Cole, who is a year younger but already has 32 games of experience in the league, having served as the Raiders’ punter in 2019 and 2020.
Yet the opportunity to spend a year working with the Steelers and watching both Berry and Dustin Colquitt (who also punted for the Steelers in 2020), seems to have given Waitman confidence. In March he told Steelers Takeaways that Berry intimated to him that he has sufficient ability to win an NFL job.
“He [said] consistency is what gets you in the league and keeps you here. He told me I [can] be an NFL punter. I haven’t forgotten that,” revealed Waitman.
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Incumbent Jordan Berry v. Rookie Pressley Harvin III
Meanwhile, back in Pittsburgh the competition for the punting job figures to be one of the most compelling training camp battles. No doubt the Steelers are rooting for the rookie to win the job. It’s not just the fact that the team spent a draft pick to acquire him, he’s also younger and less expensive than the 30-year-old Berry, who the Steelers attempted to replace—unsuccessfully—last year.
According to overthecap.com, Berry’s one-year contract calls for him to be paid a salary of $990,000 with a cap number of $950,000. If he is released in favor of Harvin it would put $100,000 in dead money on Pittsburgh’s 2021 salary cap while saving $850,000 in cash.
By way of comparison, overthecap.com reveals that Harvin is scheduled to earn a base salary of $660,000 with a salary cap number of $680,183. If he fails to make the team it will trigger a dead money cap charge of $20,183.
To make the team, Harvin would likely only need to equal Berry’s performance level. In 2020, Berry punted 57 times for 2,609 yards, with an average distance of 45.8 yards and a net average of 40.5 yards. He had 23 punts downed inside the 20-yard line with only three touchbacks.
Meanwhile, Harvin finished his senior year in college with a 48.0-yard average, setting Georgia Tech and Atlantic Coast Conference records en route to winning the 2020 Ray Guy Award.
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