B.J. Finney was among the first unrestricted free agents who would leave the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, a fifth-year veteran reserve offensive lineman. This was no coincidence. Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider recently said that they had a clear plan about how they wanted to address the offensive line this offseason, and that they did what they set out to do.
While they allowed Germain Ifedi and George Fant to walk in free agency, the Seahawks brought in Finney, in addition to Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Chance Warmack, who briefly retired and did not play in the NFL in 2019.
“We love our quarterback we want to keep him (upright). We want to have as many grown men in front of him as we possibly can”, Schneider told reporters recently. “It was important for us to be able to identify some people early on, and quite honestly, we hit, in our mind, what was (options) one, two, and three”.
Finney was arguably the most significant of the signings, reportedly agreeing to a two-year contract that is worth up to $9.5 million in total value. Not an exorbitant sum by any means, but certainly a nice payday for a player who has never been a full-time starter.
“This is an area where we felt like we can make a difference in free agency, playing by our rules in a way, what our philosophy is and trying to protect our quarterback in the best fashion that we possibly could”, Schneider went on, insinuating that they believed they could provide quality competition at a budget.
The Seahawks are returning four of their five starting offensive linemen from last season, including the re-signing of Mike Iupati, who was one of three linemen who were unrestricted free agents for them. But starting jobs will be up for grabs, including at center, with Justin Britt coming off an injury.
“We have some young guys coming up that we’re really excited about feel like we’re gonna have maybe the best depth we’ve had, particularly the most competition we’ve had”, said head coach Pete Carroll. “It’s an exciting group of guys so they’ll be battling. Everybody’s gonna be wide open, you know, so just looking forward to the time when we can get back on the field”.
Up until pretty much this offseason, it had been accepted as a foregone conclusion that Finney was viewed as a starter in waiting and the heir apparent to Ramon Foster’s left guard spot. Foster retired, but the Seahawks reportedly offered Finney more than Pittsburgh wanted or felt they could afford to match.
They would, of course, end up going into free agency themselves, signing longtime veteran Stefen Wisniewski, who will compete for the left guard job at about a third of the cost. If he does not win the job, he will be the top interior reserve. With over 100 career starts, he certainly has the experience.