There’s a good chance that B.J. Finney never starts another game for the Pittsburgh Steelers again. Let that sink in for a moment.
And then remember that if that’s true, it most likely means he’s starting for somebody else. He wouldn’t be the first Steelers offensive lineman to parlay a part-time starting stint into an opportunity to cash in during free agency and land a starting job. Chris Hubbard did it just two years ago.
And Finney has arguably a more impressive body of course. Over the course of the past four years, he has recorded a dozen starts between left and right guard and now center, and not only have the Steelers gone 11-1 in those games, he has individually performed at a level above the line.
After starting one game earlier in the season at left guard while Ramon Foster was out with a concussion, Finney started the past two games at center during Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension. The seven-time Pro Bowl center was originally suspended for three games, but had it reduced to two.
He was officially activated to the 53-man roster yesterday after previously having been giving a roster exemption, and he spoke to reporters before practice about a number of topics.
Among them was the performance of his replacement. “He played outstanding”, Pouncey said in evaluating Finney’s work at center during his two-game involuntary hiatus. “Honestly, he made a lot of money for himself, to be real with you. He went out there and played very, very well”.
Originally signed following the 2015 NFL Draft as a college free agent, Finney spent his rookie season on the practice squad, but later in the year received a pay raise equivalent to that of a rostered salary, presumably because another team was attempting to sign him.
He made the 53-man roster for the first time in 2016 and has been a mainstay since, the Steelers’ primary interior reserve at all three positions. Outside of the unusual decision earlier this year to move Matt Feiler to left guard for the second game Foster missed, he has started every game an interior lineman has missed.
Feiler also started one game at right guard, with Finney at center, during the 2017 regular season finale when the Steelers were resting both Pouncey and David DeCastro.
Finney has been recognized by outlets such as Pro Football Focus for exhibiting a high level of play when he has bene given the opportunity. This offseason, the Steelers gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender for fear of losing him.
With his three starts this year, he has only strengthened his resume, and there is a good chance that teams will be taking a look at him in March to potentially fill a vacancy in their starting lineup. Or as Pouncey said, he’ll be making a lot of money for himself.