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Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Shaun Suisham

Onward with our breakdown of each and every player on the Pittsburgh Steelers whose contract expired after the 2010 season. Let's turn to kicker Shaun Suisham, the third special teams specialist who is a 2011 free agent (D. Sepulveda, J. Kapinos).

The back story: After the Week 10 debacle against the New England Patriots, Jeff Reed was released by the Steelers. Reed had struggled all season long, and though he had stayed out of trouble off the field, his whiny comments following the Patriots game sealed his fate. Very much in the thick of things at that point, the Steelers opted to cut their losses with the volatile Reed.

Shaun Suisham was hired off the street to assume the kicking duties for the remainder of the year. The former Washington Redskins kicker converted on all five of his PATs in the Steelers 35-3 drubbing of Oakland, then nailed all four of his field goal tries the following week in an overtime win against the Bills. Suisham wouldn't miss his first kick in the black and gold until Week 16 against the Panthers, a meaningless FG try before halftime in a game the Steelers had just about wrapped up before intermission anyway.

It was in the playoffs that Suisham struggled, missing field goals in both the Divisional Round against Baltimore and the Super Bowl against Green Bay. Suisham's miscues in the playoffs left a sour taste in the mouth of Steeler Nation, but the fact of the matter is had all of us been told that Suisham would perform the way he did in relief of Reed, we all would have happily taken it.

2010 Salary: undisclosed

2010 Stats: 14/15 FGs (93.3%), 19/19 PATs (100%), 3/5 postseason FGs (60%)

The BTSC Consensus:

What I'd do: I would not attempt to re-sign Suisham. The Canadian born Suisham is by all accounts a really nice young man, and he exceeded expectations for the Steelers after being signed in December. Suisham wouldn't necessarily be expensive at all to retain, but what's the point really? There's guys like him waiting for a phone call year round. Hell, Suisham himself could very easily be available at the start of, or in the middle of next season. He'll likely get a camp invite somewhere, but who knows if he'll win a job.

Here's what I'd do instead. I'd use a draft pick on a talented college kicker. I plan on fleshing this idea out more, but in my mind, I don't think there's any way that such a high number of draft picks makes the roster this year. The Steelers have four picks from the '09 class on either the roster or practice squad, and eight from the '10 class.  With all the veteran stalwarts surrounding the bevy of young talent, there's just not enough room for as many to make the squad this year. I'd say four at most. Obviously you've got to assume that the top two picks will contribute. Then you hope that one of the third or fourth rounders sticks. After that, it's going to be awfully tough to make the 2011 Steelers squad.

Unless you're a kicker.

I'd think about drafting Alex Henery out of Nebraska in either the fifth or sixth round. Henrey was great in college -- earning 1st Team All American honors his senior year, and finishing as the all-time leading scorer in school history. He's got loads more upside than a guy like Suisham, and were he to make the team, he'd also provide some insurance at the punter position because he handled those duties with aplomb as well.

Anyway, maybe I'll make the complete case for drafting Henery at a later date. As for Suisham, I'd kindly say farewell, and thank him for his important contributions to the Steelers run to Super Bowl XLV. Then it's time to turn to the task at hand -- finding a talented, long-term option at kicker, one of the more important positions in today's NFL.


Previous Free Agent Breakdowns: