When you lose a starter and then add the loss of his direct backup on top of it, you would typically be concerned about the state of that particular position on your roster. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, they do feel comfortable with what they have to work with at left guard right now, in spite of the retirement of Ramon Foster and the departure of B.J. Finney in free agency.
One plan that they had on the back burner was the thought of moving right tackle Matt Feiler to left guard. He has made two starts at guard in the regular season, and has plenty of preseason experience there as well. This is predicated upon the continued development of their young tackles.
To compete for the position, the Steelers were able to find a bargain in free agent Stefen Wisniewski, a 31-year-old Pittsburgh native who has over 100 career starts as an interior offensive lineman, with experience both at guard and center, and a couple of Super Bowl rings over the past three seasons.
A Penn State product, Wisniewski was a player who piqued the Steelers’ interest when he came out back in 2011. He ended up being selected 48th overall in the second round. Pittsburgh did stick to the offensive line, however, ending up with tackle Marcus Gilbert at 63 in the same round. There’s a good chance that Wisniewski would have been the pick if available.
Yesterday, prior to the start of the draft, Art Rooney II commented on the signing, and mentioned that this is not the first time that they had attempted to acquire him in some form or fashion. “Getting Wisniewski back home, nice to get him back in Pittsburgh”, he said. “We’ve tried to get him a couple times, so we’ve finally got him into Pittsburgh”.
We know of at least one other time that they did try to sign him. After becoming a free agent for the second time in 2016, following a one-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers hosted him on a free agent visit. He left without signing, and ended up with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He would play for the cross-state rivals for three seasons before being released ahead of the 2019 season. Ultimately, he finished the year as the starting left guard for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs after being signing mid-season due to injuries.
While the Steelers may have been interested in bringing him in on multiple occasions, they have had their opportunities. In 2019, the Eagles declined an option on his contract in March before re-signing him two months later, during which time he was available.
Of course, they were more comfortable with their depth then than they are now, or at least were before he was signed. And in spite of his addition, the Steelers are still expected to address the offensive line in the draft, perhaps in the second round, and it could easily be an interior lineman.