Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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: OL J.C. Hassenauer
Stock Value: Down
I’m not sure how great his chances were of making the team before the 2020 NFL Draft, but the addition of Kevin Dotson likely makes it very difficult for first-year lineman J.C. Hassenauer to ‘pick up where he left off’ at the end of the 2019 season, which was actually as the gameday backup center—to B.J. Finney.
As you might recall, Maurkice Pouncey suffered an injury in the penultimate game of the season, which resulted in the team calling up Hassenauer from the practice squad, knowing that the veteran would not be available for the finale. Finney started at center, and Hassenauer, for his first-ever game on a 53-man roster, dressed as the number two at the position.
Originally signed in the Spring after a successful stint with the Birmingham Iron in the Alliance of American Football in 2019, the former Alabama lineman did have at least a modicum of success over the course of the offseason.
It was enough for the team to keep his name on the rolodex, so when Pouncey was suspended for two games, and Patrick Morris was called up from the practice squad to serve as the number two center while Finney was starting, Hassenauer was signed to the practice squad.
Morris would end up getting claimed off waivers once they released him upon Pouncey’s return, even though teams could have technically signed him off of the practice squad anyway. Be that as it may, the point is that Hassenauer remained on the practice squad until he was called up for the finale.
With Finney parting in free agency and Ramon Foster retiring—not to mention the loss of Morris and Fred Johnson off waivers—there seemed to be a slim hope for him to make the team this year, even after Stefen Wisniewski was brought in.
Even assuming Matt Feiler started at left guard, Wisniewski would have been the only sure backup interior lineman, and you need two. He would have figured to compete with Derwin Gray for the number two spot. Now Dotson is obviously the frontrunner after coming in as a fourth-round draft pick, versus a former undrafted free agent and a seventh-round pick.