What Braden Mann's signing means for Steelers punter Pressley Harvin III

Nov 20, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers punter Pressley Harvin III (6)
Nov 20, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers punter Pressley Harvin III (6) / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers made one recent acquisition that has flown under the radar since acquiring him. That was the addition of former New York Jets punter Braden Mann. The news of the acquisition came with a bit of intrigue and a bit of surprise when it was broadcast on NFL radio that they brought in a new punter after acquiring Pressley Harvin in the 2021 draft. Leading to the ever-important question is Harvin in any danger of being replaced? Or did the Steelers bring in Mann to give Harvin some friendly competition?

It’s not unusual for teams to bring in an extra punter or place kicker just to keep their skills sharp by giving them a little competition in training camp, not because they are in danger of losing their job. Typically these moves are done quietly or do not receive much press coverage. The Steelers move to sign Mann seemed to get a bit more coverage. According to Arthur Moats’ perspective, Omar Kahn brought in Mann for a legitimate competition to win the starting job.

Why the Steelers brought in Mann?

When the Steelers drafted Harvin in 2021, they did so because Jordan Berry’s production had decreased, and they felt it was time for a change. Throughout the preseason Harvin’s play was impressive enough to win him the starting job.

While starting the season strong, his father passed away, which caused him to struggle a bit, and he finished the season with a net yard per punt average of only 38.0, whereas the benchmark for that figure is typically 40.0. So he did have some inconsistency problems. In 2022 he did a much better job increasing his net yards per punt to 41.1.

Yet, some of his other metrics faltered. His number of punts inside the 20 decreased while his touchback percentage increased. Overall he did much better. That’s why it seemed a bit of a shock that Omar Kahn even decided to bring in another punter.

In Mann’s case, it’s not like he is head and shoulders better than Harvin; if anything, he is on par with Harvin. The Jets drafted Mann in 2020, hoping he would be around for a decade, but that didn’t happen. He was fairly inconsistent in punting duties in his rookie season. His net yards per put were only 37.2.

While that number went up in 2021 to 41.6, it dropped to 40.8 in 2022. In 2021 following an injury, the Jets brought in Justin Morstead. He vastly outperformed Mann, but when Mann recovered from his injury, they decided to release Morstead. Then when free agency began in 2023, the Jets brought back Morstead and promptly released Mann.

Who wins the starting job?

In this case, it’s hard to see Harvin lose his starting job to another punter who struggled to maintain consistency with his former team. If the Steelers were unhappy with Harvin, they might have found better competition for him.

Fans shouldn’t expect to see a change in punter duties when the season starts. Yet stranger things have happened, and if he has a good preseason, perhaps he snatches the job from Harvin, though it does not seem likely that will be the case.

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There is one thing fans should take from the move to bring in another punter. Arthur Moats said Omar Kahn was leaving no stone unturned. Meaning that Kahn wants to field the best team possible in 2023, and if bringing in another punter to push Pressley Harvin makes them a better team, then so be it. That is a trait fans want to see in a general Manager.