Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: G/C B.J. Finney
Stock Value: Up
There really isn’t a whole lot more for B.J. Finney to do to raise his profile at this point in his career than to earn a full-time starting job. He has already started a dozen games at all three interior line positions (in total) over the course of the first four years of his career, including five at center after he started three games there last season. Two have also come at right guard, with the other five coming at left guard in place of Ramon Foster.
And he has played well at all three positions. I argue, however, that his stock is up specifically because he got the opportunity in 2019 to play the center position more, starting three games there in place of Maurkice Pouncey, two due to suspension and then later one due to injury, and improved his play at that spot in comparison to the first two starts he made there in his career, in the season finales of the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft, Finney spent his rookie season on the practice squad, signed after he recovered from an injury he suffered in the final preseason game. By the end of the year, the team felt the need to protect him from potential poachers, raising his salary to the equivalent of a rostered player.
He would make the team the following year and would become their top interior reserve, with Cody Wallace injured that year. He made his NFL debut against the Kansas City Chiefs, his hometown team, despite suffering a finger injury that threatened his availability and nearly saw Chris Hubbard start instead.
But he did play, and played very well, even showing an adeptness at pulling. The Steelers rushed very well behind them that game, and then again against the Buffalo Bills. Pittsburgh has a very good record in the games that he starts, I believe now 10-2 after going 3-1 this past year.
But he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, and they have to decide how much they like him, as it’s possible another team will look at him as starter-capable. If they want to keep him, they may have to promise him a starting job and release Ramon Foster, who is 34 and under the final year of his contract.