Player: B.J. Finney
Position: Offensive Lineman
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2019 Salary Cap Hit: $3,095,000
2019 Season Breakdown:
B.J. Finney has been on the Steelers’ 53-man roster for the past four seasons, spending one prior year on their practice squad since originally signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2015. As a former undrafted free agent, who had previously been released, he had his initial multi-year contract wiped out.
As a result, he was a restricted free agent last season. Despite the fact that he is not a starter, the Steelers felt strong enough about his role on the team that they were willing to tender him, doing so at the second-round level, fearing the risk of losing him. That required about a $1 million more (as seen above, he earned over $3 million last season).
But just like every other year in which he has been on the 53-man roster, Finney was called upon multiple times over the course of the 2019 season to enter the starting lineup. He first made one start in place of Ramon Foster at left guard, which is where the slight plurality of his career starts at this point have come.
The Steelers made the interesting decision for the second game that Foster missed to move right tackle Matt Feiler to left guard, the argument brought forth being that Feiler is their physically strongest offensive lineman and they felt that would better fit the matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
After that, Finney also started two games at center during Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension, and then in the season finale while Pouncey was injured.
His four starts along the line are the most he’s had yet in a single season. He has 12 career starts as a lineman (one as a tackle-eligible), and the team is 10-2 in the games he starts, including going 3-1 last year.
Free Agency Outlook:
Finney’s free agency outlook has to be that of a starter. The real question is whether or not that Steelers will target him as a starter, and that question hinges upon whether or not they view Foster in their plans for 2020.
Given how tight they are against the salary cap, it seems unlikely that both end up on the 53-man roster in 2020. Finney already made $3 million last season as a backup. With a dozen quality starts across all three interior line positions, I have to believe that there will be some teams willing to look at him as a potential starter.
Former Steeler Chris Hubbard had fewer starts to his name before the Cleveland Browns signed him to a five-year, $36.5 million contract, and like Finney, he spent a year on the practice squad first. I admit I am pretty curious to see what Finney’s market is, assuming the Steelers even let him hit free agency.