The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Will B.J. Finney be the Steelers’ starting left guard in 2019?
The Steeler signed B.J. Finney as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He suffered an injury in the final preseason game, but when healed, he was brought back during the season on the practice squad, and by the end of the year they raised his weekly salary to the equivalent of a rostered salary, which usually means another team was interested in him.
He made the 53-man roster in 2016 and started three games that year, including two games at left guard when Ramon Foster was out with injuries. The offense, particularly the running game, had two of their best games of the season, and he was a positive contributor to that success.
He started four games this past season, making three starts for Foster, and continued to play well in each in that spot, though he has yet to fare quite so well during two starts at center. He failed to play even half of the second game due to an injury in last season’s finale.
But we are reaching a critical point in two respects. For one thing, Finney will be a restricted free agent next year. While they probably don’t have to worry about him being poached, they may consider putting a higher tag on him. more notably, they may want to work out a new contract instead.
The other side of the equation is Foster. While he has been a solid starter for the better part of his career, he is entering the final season on his contract, and will be playing the 2018 season at the age of 32. While that is not ancient for a lineman, it is getting up there.
Things like contract status often help to dictate decisions like these being made. The Steelers chose to move on from Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator, for example, when Keith Butler’s contract was up, and they promoted him to that role, which had been at least a handshake agreement for some time already.