Player: B.J. Finney
Position: Offensive Line
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights – Re-Signed
2017 Salary Cap Hit: $540,000
2017 Season Breakdown:
The 2017 season was actually much like the 2016 season for second-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney. He made a couple of spot starts at left guard in replace of Ramon Foster due to injury and then he ended the regular season with a start at center due to a team decision to rest Maurkice Pouncey.
And as he did the year before, he played well in the opportunities that he was given at left guard. His most notably game came against the Kansas City Chiefs on the road, where he started and helped lead Le’Veon Bell to one of his best games of the season.
Finney also actually got some work in a few games serving as a tackle-eligible tight end, which was a new role for him, but did demonstrate the level of trust the coaching staff has not just in him, but in Mike Munchak’s ability to prepare his players.
While built classically like a road-grading interior offensive lineman, Finney is actually a bit more athletic than he looks and has demonstrated the ability to effectively pull as a moving blocker, which has become a staple in the Steelers’ scheme up front.
Free Agency Outlook:
As I talked about with Mike Hilton yesterday, the Steelers have already retained Finney on a one-year contract extension, which is distinct from an exclusive rights free agent tender in a manner in which I’m not entirely clear. When he made the 53-man roster in 2016, he signed a two-year contract, which would have expired with the start of the new league year in mid-March.
With the level of play that he has shown when given the opportunity to start due to injuries, many have already been penciling in his name for a future starting position along the offensive line, and truth be told, that is quite possible. Doing the math, Foster is in the final year of his contract and will be 33 in 2019, which is something to note.
Of course, that does not require urgency in getting something more long-term done. Unlike with Alejandro Villanueva, who was already an established starter, but nonetheless was also an exclusive rights free agent with two years of experience, Finney doesn’t hold much leverage.
He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season, and if history is any judge, he should see the opportunity to start two or three games during the year. The team will likely use that as a key factor in what they want to do with him.
It’s quite possible that they do what they did with Roosevelt Nix as a restricted free agent, which is attempt to sign him to a modest long-term extension. Nix may ‘start’ at a part-time position, but he did so at a Pro Bowl level.