There isn’t much else to do while we sit here and wait for news about whether or not there will even be training camp, so it seems as good a time as any to bring back this series, in which we look to introduce some of the new players that the Pittsburgh Steelers have added to the mix since the end of the 2019 season.
The team added some notable pieces in free agency, which was important, because they didn’t have much to work with in terms of draft capital due to previous trades. They also made liberal use of the XFL’s closure, signing about as many players from there as the rest of the league combined. Even while claiming that they didn’t have a lot of roster room, they still signed a good number of rookie college free agents as well, enough that they had to release three players just to make room for them.
Stefen Wisniewski was one of three players that the Steelers signed this offseason as unrestricted free agents, and there is an easily foreseeable path toward him leading the team in snaps—if he ends up winning the starting job at left guard.
A Pittsburgh native who graduated from Central Catholic and then from Penn State, he was a second-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2011, where he spent his first four seasons. He spent the 2015 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he raised his profile.
The following offseason, Wisniewski did the free agency rounds, and even paid a visit to the Steelers, but ended up leaving the facilities without signing. He would end up with the Philadelphia Eagles for the next three years instead, winning a Super Bowl.
Last season, he failed to make the Eagles’ roster, and he remained unemployed for the first several weeks of the 2019 season before injuries prompted the Kansas City Chiefs to sign him. He did not start until late in the year, but would remain in the lineup from the final two games of the regular season through the Chiefs’ three-game Super Bowl run, his second title in three years.
Wisniewski played in and started 61 games with the Raiders in his first four seasons, starting at left guard as a rookie before moving to center. He started all 16 games at center for the Jaguars in 2015, but he was never a full-time starter in Philadelphia. He would ultimately start 24 regular season games over his three years there, plus three (out of five total) postseason games.
This offseason, the Steelers saw long-time starting left guard Ramon Foster retired at the age of 34. B.J. Finney, who had been their primary interior reserve with a dozen starts under his belt over the past four years, signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency.
Wisniewski came cheap on a two-year deal worth $2.85 million that includes only $375,000 guaranteed. At 31, he has been told that he will compete for a starting job at left guard (with right tackle Matt Feiler), but if he doesn’t start, he will serve as the primary interior reserve.
All told, including the postseason, he has started 108 of 142 games in his career. That type of experience at that price was a good move on the part of the front office in a season in which cap space was limited.