The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: B.J. Finney
Position: Offensive Line
Experience: 2 Years
The Steelers’ depth along the offensive line was dealt a mighty yet predictable blow yesterday when it was reported that Chris Hubbard would sign a big-money contract with the Cleveland Browns. As I just wrote earlier today, good for him, that’s far more than Pittsburgh could have afforded to pay him. He is going to make more than Marcus Gilbert, in fact.
But Pittsburgh does still have some other depth to work with, and that starts with B.J. Finney, who has emerged as their top interior offensive lineman over the course of the past two seasons. Originally an undrafted free agent in 2015, he spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad, but even then the team knew he was a keeper, as by the end of the year they were paying him a roster-equivalent weekly salary to ensure that they keep his rights.
He made the team the following year and made three starts due to injury, including two at left guard in place of Ramon Foster, where he played very well in the veteran’s absence. It was a similar story in 2017, only it was four starts with three at left guard, and finding similar success.
It seems likely that Finney will at some point be the heir apparent to Foster at left guard. The veteran, 32, is in the final year of his contract. It is a possibility that they may even allow the two to compete for the starting job.
He does offer some flexibility as well. Primarily a center in college, he has started two of his seven games at that position, in the season finales of each of the past two seasons. But he struggled in the first game and was injured in the first half of the second game. He also got some snaps as a tackle-eligible extra lineman this past year.
At the moment, he is locked in place as very valuable depth, made even more important with Hubbard’s departure as they look to continue to develop Matt Feiler and Jerald Hawkins, perhaps with another draft pick thrown in this year.