Sometimes there really is a thing called a hometown discount, so to speak, even if that town isn’t your home. For B.J. Finney, who grew up in Kansas and admits his family doesn’t “have a tie to Pennsylvania”, Pittsburgh is that hometown…perhaps even before he signed with them as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State in 2015.
I’m sure most of you have seen the video. A member of his family recorded him while he was on the phone with the Steelers during the tail end of the draft, during which he agreed to sign with them. He was clearly emotional. It wasn’t a surprise.
“Growing up, watching football with my dad, it was always the Steelers on Sundays, black and gold, no other option”, he recently told the team’s website. “He just watched the 1970s dynasty and fell in love with them and that’s the way I grew up. I fell in love watching this franchise”.
That’s no doubt the case for a lot of individuals who grew up in that era and passed along their love of the team to their children. But now Finney has a critical business decision to make. He is an unrestricted free agent, set to turn 29 years old toward the end of October. He has never had the opportunity to be a full-time starter before.
Unless the Steelers roll out the red carpet and let Ramon Foster go so that he can inherit the left guard position, at which he has made five starts over the past four seasons (and seven other starts at right guard and center), he has to give strong consideration to what the open market presents, both in financial compensation and playing time opportunity.
The ideal situation for him would be to remain in Pittsburgh, to be a starter, and to be paid like one, as goes without saying. The Steelers may be able to provide him with the opportunity to start. They may or may not be able to pay him as much as other teams can pay him, due to their tight salary cap situation. Nevertheless, he would have to give it serious thought.
“There is nothing more my wife and I would love than to be back in Pittsburgh”, he said. “We love the city. We love the people. This franchise, the organization with how they have helped us navigate difficult times in our life. The people that we have met and grown to love here, this really is a special place. We would love to come back”.
Finney has played above the line when he has been given the opportunity to get into games, and the team has gone 10-2 during his 12 career starts as well, including a 3-1 record in 2019, the only loss coming in the minor disaster that was the season finale. Considering the team went 8-8 overall, that’s not too bad.