Player: Mat McBriar
Experience: 10 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2013 Salary Cap Hit: $293,824
2013 Season Breakdown: The Pittsburgh Steelers wanted to upgrade their punting position over second-year undrafted free agent Drew Butler, so when Butler beat out veteran Brian Moorman during the preseason, they looked for a replacement on the waiver wire, finding a potential hit in Zoltan Mesko, former punter for the New England Patriots.
That didn’t end up working out all that well, to the point that Mike Tomlin resorted to describing a few of his efforts as “Junior Varsity”. Mesko only lasted seven games in Pittsburgh before the Steelers finally conceded to their mistake.
Instead of bringing Butler back, however, the Steelers instead turned to another veteran, this time Mat McBriar, a former Pro Bowl punter with the Dallas Cowboys who spent last season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
2013 was far from a Pro Bowl-caliber season for McBriar. As I’ve previously written, McBriar had career-lows in terms of yards per punt and net yards per punt. His 41.3 yards per punt was actually worse than Mesko’s average, and ranked 32nd in the league.
His 35 yard net average was also worse than Mesko’s, and even worse just in general, as it ranked 34th in the league, with the only average worse belonging to Washington Redskins punter Sav Rocca.
Of his 40 total punts, 14 were either downed or fair caught, which is neither particularly good or bad. He ended up with three touchbacks, including one in the season finale that was deliberately booted into the seats, and he also had one punt blocked, though I place the fault on the long snapper there. His most noteworthy accomplishment of the season was a 30-yard pass to David Paulson on a fake punt.
Free Agency Outlook: McBriar was looking for a job in the middle of the 2013 season after playing in 13 games for the Eagles last year. He may be waiting until mid-season again for another job offer, because his tape resume from this past season in Pittsburgh won’t have anybody jumping out of their seats.
The Steelers used one of their first futures contracts outside the organization in order to sign Brad Wing, a talented punter with a glowing college resume that also has a bad reputation as having character concerns. It’s a low-risk, high-reward signing, but there’s no question in my mind that he won’t be the only punter the Steelers sign this offseason—maybe even McBriar—with an eye toward a punter battle, not just because they always prefer to have two legs in camp.
Other Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis Ryan Clark – Unrestricted Free Agent Emmanuel Sanders – Unrestricted Free Agent Brett Keisel – Unrestricted Free Agent Jerricho Cotchery – Unrestricted Free Agent Ziggy Hood – Unrestricted Free Agent Jason Worilds – Unrestricted Free Agent David Johnson – Unrestricted Free Agent Jonathan Dwyer – Unrestricted Free Agent Fernando Velasco – Unrestricted Free Agent Cody Wallace – Unrestricted Free Agent Will Allen – Unrestricted Free Agent Stevenson Sylvester – Unrestricted Free Agent Felix Jones – Unrestricted Free Agent Al Woods – Unrestricted Free Agent Plaxico Burress – Unrestricted Free Agent LaRod Stephens-Howling – Unrestricted Free Agent Guy Whimper – Unrestricted Free Agent Michael Palmer – Unrestricted Free Agent Jamaal Westerman – Unrestricted Free Agent Greg Warren – Unrestricted Free Agent
I think it’s more likely they sign a young UDFA after the draft and let the 2 young kids fight it out in camp. Heck, I wouldn’t even be against using a 7th round pick on a punter if there is a really good talent out there.
Bring in another UDFA like Butler a couple yrs back and let Wing and the rookie battle it out, WE HAVE TO upgrade this position, period
No doubt, I wouldn’t mind spending a 6th or 7th Rder if the talent is there. Look at Teams like KC with Colquitt, SanFran with Andy Lee or Brandon Fields in MIA.. these Teams invested a draft pick at the position and its paid off
completely agree … a good solid punter is worth every bit of a 6th/7th round pick … punting is one of the most underrated positions in football. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like there is a great amount of talent out there this year !
Well stated. Field position is soo important, and special teams usually account for that. Pay close attention to the Niners special teams this weekend and how field position affects their play. I heard last weekend in Carolina, Andy Lee was dropping dimes inside the ten yard line during pre game (similar to the qbs trash can throws). The Niners have that somewhat mastered, and by comparison, the Steelers need a lot of help in that dept. if they want to be contenders. In a nutshell, a good punter makes both the offense and the defenses jobs a lot easier as we’ll notice on Sunday.
Yea.. here’s to hoping Wing proves to be an asset
Exactly, I mentioned in another article Teams like KC and SF have used recent draft picks to secure very talented kickers and it pays dividends. You have a good punter to go along with a good Defense and you’ll be in every game you play. The last time we drafted one was Sepulveda who was a beast before all the injuries, we should consider it again, if not this year, next (unless some how some way Wing locks down the position)
That sure would be something !
Not to stray anyone away from this site, but there is an excellent article on Advanced NFL Stats in regards to opponents starting positions and how it affects games.
Agree that punting plays an important (and often underrated) role. Your Sepulveda example though might not be the best to use. Trading up to get him in the 4th in 2007 was one of the poorer draft decisions of the Tomlin/Colbert era. Yes, Sepulveda had some LB-like skills, but that’s not the point. Brandon Fields went in the 7th round in that same draft and he has been the superior punter to the oft-injured and mostly mediocre Sepulveda (who’s obviously out of the NFL now).
I think with P, if there’s a really good one out there beginning in the 6th, that’s when maybe you start to consider it if in need…and then again in the 7th, but no sooner. There are enough examples of UDFA rookies who are just as good..take Hekker from STL as an example from this year.
The Sepulveda situation hurt us more than we realize. Instead of having our Punter for the next 8 to 10 years, we lost a higher pick on him and Im still not even sure why he kept getting injured, He had the leg as advertised when healthy.
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