Thursday, January 19, 2023

Steelers Try out former Panthers punter, 2 kickers

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With punter Pressley Harvin III and kicker Chris Boswell both having less than stellar seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for specialists who could potentially provide competition in 2023. On January 18, the team conducted tryouts for two punters and two place kickers after Aaron Wilson from Pro Football Network and the NFL’s daily personnel announcement.

The players in question are former Carolina Panthers player Joseph Charlton and former Wake Forest player Dom Maggio.

The former joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after a collegiate career in South Carolina in which he averaged 45.5 yards per punt.

As a rookie, Charlton won Carolina’s punting job, averaging 46.3 yards per boat over the course of 45 kicks, with just three touchbacks and 21 kicks within the 20. His most notable play came in Week 16 when he was named an NFC Special Team Player was the week after he landed all five of his punts inside the 20 during a Panther win in Washington.

In 2021, Charlton struggled through five games for the Panthers before being placed on injured reserve with a back injury. But after getting fired, he got his start with the Jacksonville Jaguars, for whom he made a one-game appearance. In 2022, he signed a reserve/futures contract with the Browns, but waived the preseason.

Maggio signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 draft, but was fired in August of that year for failing to unseat Ravens legend Sam Koch.

Maggio signed with the Atlanta Falcons in March 2021 and later that year spent time on the Atlanta practice team. His father, Kirk Maggio, was a UCLA All-American punter and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 12th round of the 1990 NFL Draft (No. 325 overall).

The first of the two kickers to coach for the Steelers was Chris Naggar, who joined the NFL in 2021 and joined the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent from SMU. Naggar was released to training camp by the Jets and started his rookie season in Cleveland’s practice squad. He appeared in a regular season game for the Browns, scoring 1 of 2 extra points and his only field goal attempt – a 37-yarder. He spent time with the Dallas Cowboys in 2022 but was released in May.

Naggar – who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds – started his college career in Texas but switched to SMU and kicked for the Mustangs in 2020, converting 17 of 21 field goal attempts that year.

The other pitcher in question is Gabe Brkic (pronounced BUR-kitch), who signed as a rookie undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings in May 2022 after four seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners. During his time in Oklahoma, Brkic made 57 of 69 field goal attempts (82.6%) and 159 of 160 PAT attempts (99.4%).

But Brkic is said to have “fought” in spring training and was lifted by the Vikings in June 2022 after the team’s mini-camp.

As for Harvin and Boswell, the former was 28th in the league in yards per punt (44.5) in 2022 and struggled with his consistency much like he did as a rookie. Meanwhile, Boswell made just 71.4% of his field goal attempts over the past year, the second-lowest percentage of his career, according to Pro Football Reference. He also missed five games due to injury (groin), with Nick Sciba and Matthew Wright filling the gap in his absence.

Obviously, those numbers aren’t good enough considering Boswell signed a four-year, $20 million contract extension in August 2022.

According to overthecap.com, Boswell is expected to earn a salary of $2.74 million in 2023, while $5.64 million counts towards the cap. If released before June 1, 2023, the move would trigger a $6.4 million dead money cap.



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