To date, the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed three players as unrestricted free agents from outside of their organization. In one sense or another, it is possible that all of them emerge as starters. Derek Watt will be the team’s fullback, of course, in whatever sense that the fullback is still a starter, but Stefen Wisniewski has the chance to play the most snaps if he wins the starting left guard job.
That is one big draw that sold him on the Steelers, but it’s also because he grew up a fan. “I’ve been a starter most of my career, so I wanted to go somewhere where I had a good shot to compete to be a starter, and obviously I knew when Ramon Foster retired that that would be an open job”, he told The Fan.
“That was exciting, but it’s definitely more exciting because it’s not just any starting job, it’s a starting job for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where I grew up”, he went on. “Getting to play for my hometown team with all my family and all my friends at every game, that’s always something I hoped could happen some day, and the fact that it all just, the stars kind of lined up here. I was super excited and jumped on that opportunity really quickly. I did have a few other options, but it’s tough to turn down your hometown team, let alone when you’ve got a great opportunity like I have”.
He comes to the Steelers at a time during which they have missed the postseason two years running, though under the new playoff rules, they actually would have qualified in each of the past two seasons at the number seven seed. Not that he is unfamiliar with failure.
“I’ve been really blessed. In my first six years of my career, I didn’t have a winning season. Didn’t make the playoffs once. So I saw the other side of the NFL, struggling with losing on bad teams. I think that made me really appreciate how hard it is to get one Super Bowl, let alone being blessed to get two, and I do really feel blessed”.
After leaving the Oakland Raiders, and following a one-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Wisniewski joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016, where he would win his first Super Bowl a year later. He spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs last season, starting their final five games, including a victory in the most recent Super Bowl.
The nine-year veteran has experienced the highest highs and close to the lowest of lows over the course of his career, which now sees him on his fifth and perhaps final team, now 31 years old. He would love to cap off his career with one more Lombardi, this one being hoisted as the starting guard for the team he grew up watching.