Steelers must pursue one of these three punters in free agency


The Pittsburgh Steelers have cleaned out the lockers of a few 2023 starters and heavy contributors already. With free agency just about to start, one noteworthy position needs to be filled with a proven commodity after years of inconsistency at the position: Punter.

Pressley Harvin III was the team's primary punter for the past three seasons but was released shortly after the Super Bowl as the team looks to head in another direction. Harvin was drafted in 2020 with a bit of fanfare. He came to the NFL with a cannon leg and a history of successful fakes. Unfortunately, his inconsistencies cost the Steelers far more often than anyone was comfortable with and we never saw him shine with fake plays.

With Harvin out the door, the team does still have a connection to Brad Wing, who started a couple of games for Pittsburgh as Harvin dealt with a hamstring injury. Wing was serviceable after returning to the NFL for the first time in six years. He finished the season on the practice squad but isn't on the team's official roster as of this writing.

Wing might be an okay option for competition in camp, but he is 33 years old with very little NFL experience or success. The Steelers have to find a new punter and after striking out in the draft with the likes of Daniel Sepulveda and Harvin, they should opt for a proven veteran in 2024.

Many Steelers fans were interested in Matt Araiza after his legal troubles were settled, but the Kansas City Chiefs quickly scooped him up before free agency officially opened. So that's one leg already off the market without many to choose from.

Luckily, Pittsburgh will have a few options to explore, especially with the Chiefs signing Araiza. With the added boost in the salary cap, Omar Khan will have a bit more cash to play with than expected, so there's little excuse not to upgrade the position in free agency. Here are three punters the Steelers could sign in their 2024 free-agency class.

Tommy Townsend

Without a doubt, former Kansas City Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend is the best leg on the market. He's been with the Chiefs for the past four seasons and is widely regarded as one of the better punters in the NFL. After making $2.6 million on a one-year deal in 2023, Townsend will likely hit the market with the Chiefs signing Araiza.

Townsend isn't the most expensive free agent punter in 2024, but with Rigoberto Sanchez expected back with the Indianapolis Colts, Townsend is the best option under 30 years of age. The question now is whether the Steelers want to spend $3 million per year on a punter. Conventional thought certainly says they should after years of subpar play at the position.

Townsend is just 27 years old and could be locked down on a multi-year contract to breathe some much-needed consistency into the Steelers punting game. Through four years, he's averaged between 40 and 45 yards net, has roughly 20 yards downed inside the 20 each year, and less than six touchbacks each season. That's a large step up from Harvin.

Thomas Morstead

The longtime New Orleans Saints punter has bounced around the league for the past few seasons landing in New York with the Jets for the 2023 season. He probably didn't expect he would have to punt 99 times at 37 years old, the most in his career by far.

Still, he could look to return with the Jets in 2024 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers returning and putting the team back in Super Bowl contention. He did prove he can still get the job done, having a great season despite his heavy workload.

Morstead made $1.3 million in 2023, so he's a good bit cheaper than Townsend if he's willing to leave the Jets. Still, he's by far the oldest punter as he turns 38 in early March. He wouldn't be a long-term answer, but he would at least rejuvenate the position for the Steelers while they fill other needs.

Jake Bailey

Jake Bailey is the most unproven name here, but he's still a great option for the Steelers to improve the position without breaking the bank.

Bailey spent his first four seasons with the New England Patriots, where he had some inconsistencies. However, in 2023, he had a strong season with the Miami Dolphins, averaging 40 yards net with 20 punts downed inside the 20 and just three touchbacks. He'll be 27 for the 2024 season and after making $1.2 million in 2023, he won't command too much in free agency to scare away the Steelers. Still, he's likely a one-year deal option, given his average NFL production.

Unlike the others on this list, Bailey may have to compete for the job if he lands in Pittsburgh. The team is notorious for using draft capital on punters when they need one. Bailey hasn't been the most consistent punter to start his NFL career, but he would be an upgrade over Harvin.