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Punter Cameron Johnston Explains Why He Chose Steelers In Free Agency

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Entering the offseason with a major need at the punter position following the release of the inconsistent Pressley Harvin III, the Pittsburgh Steelers struck quickly in free agency, landing 32-year-old punter Cameron Johnston on a three-year, $9 million deal, solidifying the position.

Since signing with the Steelers in mid-March, Johnston hasn’t really spoken to the media much regarding the move from the Houston Texans to the Steelers. But he did so on Tuesday.

During an appearance on the SEN Breakfast show in Australia Tuesday, Johnston explained why he chose the Steelers in free agency. Ultimately, it came down to being closer to family.

“It was to join an incredible club and then also just get back closer to home for my wife. She’s from Columbus, Ohio, which is a couple hour drive from Pittsburgh,” Johnston said to SEN Breakfast, according to the show’s podcast page. “So, it worked out really, really well.”

Obviously, Columbus is just a few hours drive from Pittsburgh, which is much easier for Johnston and his family than travel from Houston was. Johnston attended Ohio State from 2013-2016 before going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, landing with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent four seasons from 2017-20.

After his four-year stint with the Eagles, Johnston headed to Houston and was one of the better punters in football. Though he hit free agency and is changing teams again, Johnston remains one of the top punters in football from a statistical perspective.

Throughout his career, he’s averaged at least 46.4 punting yards every year, and at least a 40.6 net yards per punt number every year of his career to date. In his six seasons in the NFL, he’s averaged 42.2 net punting yards, which is a significant upgrade on the numbers Harvin was putting up in Pittsburgh (39.4).

The Steelers very clearly upgraded with Johnston, and getting him closer to his wife’s home in Columbus is a major plus.

The pull of playing closer to his wife’s home, as well as with a prestigious organization like the Steelers carried weight. So, too, did the opportunity to play for head coach Mike Tomlin.

Speaking with SEN Breakfast, Johnston stated that he can’t wait to play with Tomlin.

“Yeah, I got to sit down with him when I signed, so that was incredible,” Johnston said of Tomlin. “It’s good to have a conversation with him. He’s an incredible coach and just can’t wait to play for him.”

Though Johnston and Tomlin might not have all that many interactions day-to-day or in-game, just being able to play under Tomlin, speak with him and establish a relationship is something Johnston is looking forward to, especially after hearing plenty of stories regarding the future Hall of Fame head coach.

Tomlin even called Johnston the “belle of the ball” in free agency at the punting position, so there’s obvious excitement on both sides of the pairing, which should be quite the successful one.

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