By Matthew Marczi
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