Steelers sign K Suisham through 2018 season
LATROBE, Pa. (AP) - Shaun Suisham doesn't seem to mind kicking at Heinz Field.
The most accurate kicker in Pittsburgh Steelers' history parlayed his consistency into a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2018 season. Financial terms for the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed.
''Being part of the Pittsburgh Steelers, being part of this organization since I got here has been wonderful,'' Suisham said. ''I'm super excited and very grateful for the extension.''
The 32-year-old Suisham will make $1.425 million this season, the final year of a four-year contract signed in 2011.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert considered Suisham a priority after he connected on at least 90 percent of his tries in three of his four seasons with Pittsburgh.
The Steelers, with about $6 million in salary cap space, held off on a long-term extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to focus on Suisham, linebacker Jason Worilds, tackle Marcus Gilbert and cornerback Cortez Allen, players all entering the final year of their contracts.
Suisham's deal is the first to get done.
''Certainly different deals take longer to develop,'' Suisham said. ''I'm just happy that I was part of that group and certainly pleased with the deal.''
The Steelers signed Suisham in November 2010, replacing Jeff Reed midseason after the normally dependable kicker, who won two Super Bowls in eight years, turned erratic, missing seven of 22 attempts.
Suisham has been steady since.
He established a team record in 2013, connecting on 30 of 32 field-goal attempts.
The Canadian-born Suisham experienced struggles in 2011, making just 23 of 31 field goals, but he rebounded to hit 92 percent of his kicks the past two seasons, going 58 of 63 with two of those misses coming from beyond 50 yards.
Suisham, who made 95 of 109 field goals and all 128 extra points in four years with Pittsburgh, ranks first in team history with an 87.2 percent field goal conversion rate.
''As I've gotten older, I learned to take things one week at a time, one game at a time,'' Suisham said. ''Certainly playing in Pittsburgh, there are some challenges, but I love them. I enjoy playing here.''
The venue may be the biggest challenge, but Suisham has made it look easy.
Heinz Field is largely regarded as one of the most difficult places to kick thanks in large part to a problematic open end of the stadium where gusty winds can creep inside, sometimes swirling in off the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers.
Throw in rain, snow, cold temperatures and other elements on top of an oft-criticized grass surface and Heinz Field can be tough on kickers.
''I truly do get excited when the weather is bad,'' Suisham said. ''It's taken a number of years to get to the point where I feel pretty good in there, but I love playing there.''
It hasn't always been that way for Suisham, an undrafted free agent from Bowling Green. Suisham, who was in training camp with the Steelers in 2005 before he was cut, served two stints with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
He had 10 misses in 36 attempts during the 2008 season in Washington and went a combined 20 of 24 with the Redskins and Cowboys the following year.
A second stop in Pittsburgh rejuvenated his career.
''I'm grateful for every job I've ever had in the NFL because they're special,'' Suisham said. ''I've had ups and downs, as an undrafted guy and I certainly have a great appreciation for this.''
The Steelers showed they appreciate Suisham, too. He's glad to have his future settled and anxious for the upcoming season where he hopes to better his record-setting numbers of 2013. The Steelers hope to see more of the same from their reliable kicker.
''I'm surrounded by a whole bunch of good players, great coaches and certainly wonderful ownership,'' Suisham said. ''I just couldn't be happier and I'm really looking forward to this season.''
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