Steelers sign punter Podlesh

April 15, 2014

In the past three seasons, the Steelers have used five different punters.

They will open the 2014 season with yet another.

The Steelers all but assured that Tuesday when they signed former Jacksonville and Chicago punter Adam Podlesh to a one-year contract.

Podlesh joins first-year player Brad Wing as the only punters on the Steelers’ roster. Wing, an LSU product, has never punted in the NFL.

Mat McBriar, who took over the Steelers’ punting duties when Zoltan Mesko was released after seven games last season, is a free agent and will not be re-signed.

“Very excited to be part of the storied franchise that is #Steelernation,” Podlesh tweeted. “Time to get to work in the black and gold!!”

Podlesh, 30, has averaged 42.4 yards per attempt in his eight-year career but averaged only 40.6 yards in 2013 for Chicago. That ranked him last in the NFL in that statistic among qualifying punters.

Podlesh had just two touchbacks last season, which ranked third in the NFL, and he tied for 13th in the league with 27 punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Mesko and McBriar combined to have just 16 punts downed inside the 20 last season.

The Steelers have been searching for a long-term solution at punter for several years.

In 2007, they thought they had the answer when they traded fourth- and sixth-round draft picks to move up seven spots in the fourth round and select Daniel Sepulveda.

But Sepulveda suffered season-ending knee injuries twice and was not retained by the Steelers following the 2011 season.

Podlesh was selected by Jacksonville 11 picks before the Steelers selected Sepulveda in 2007.

The Steelers had been $386,000 under the salary cap prior to signing Podlesh. His deal will put Pittsburgh right at the $133 million cap.

In other news, with safety Ryan Clark having left in free agency for Washington, guard Ramon Foster will be the team’s new NFLPA representative.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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