Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: iOL J.C. Hassenuer
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Going from a fringe roster candidate to a primary backup at center, the 2020 season was good for J.C. Hassenauer, and it’s not immediately clear that future events over the next few months will keep him off of next season’s roster.
While it can’t be said that he really impressed with his play on the field, this isn’t about performances. What we are discussing today is J.C. Hassenauer’s positioning. And the reality is that he went from only being promoted to the 53-man roster at the end of the 2019 season due to numerous injuries to being the primary backup center—albeit also with injury being involved.
A former college free agent out of Alabama who didn’t make any practice squad in 2018, Hassenauer went on to the AAF, where he played for the Birmingham Iron and had success. The Steelers signed him after the league folded, but he didn’t make the team.
Patrick Morris was initially retained as the team’s practice squad center, with B.J. Finney the backup on the 53-man roster, but Morris was eventually promoted due to Maurkice Pouncey getting suspended, and was claimed off waivers later.
The Steelers signed Hassenauer to take Morris’ place, and with Pouncey getting injured at the end of the year, he dressed as Finney’s backup for the season finale. Then he made the 53-man roster in 2020 outright as the ninth lineman.
After Stefen Wisniewski was injured in the opener, he became the backup center. After Wisniewski recovered, they waived the veteran, leaving Hassenauer to serve as the backup center all season. He also played some at guard, though Kevin Dotson was the primary backup.
With Pouncey potentially retiring and there really being nobody else to play center, the way things look right now, it seems like there is a fairly good chance of him being on the roster again in 2021 in some capacity. For better or worth, those are the facts based on what we have to work with today.