The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will reunite with at least one former player via free agency (or trade) this offseason.
Explanation: The Steelers’ roster is full of holes, and under Mike Tomlin, they have shown a penchant for dipping into the familiar. A couple of prominent former Steelers could very well be on the chopping block, like tight end Jesse James and center B.J. Finney, both of who would address needs following the retirements of Vance McDonald and Maurkice Pouncey, respectively.
Following a season in which both Joshua Dobbs and Jerald Hawkins finished the year on the 53-man roster, I would be a fool not to buy this one. Even Jordan Berry was brought back after getting cut. Jayrone Elliott found his way back. Sean Davis, too. It was like a reunion tour.
Neither James nor Finney should be overly comfortable with their current contract situations with their respective teams. The Lions drafted a tight end in the first round after signing him in free agency to frankly more than he was worth. Finney was traded after signing to the Seahawks, and only as part of a deal for the Bengals to dish the disgruntled Carlos Dunlap.
There’s a great chance at least one of them is cut loose, among other former players, as well as a chance that the Steelers will be interested in bringing them back.
Even mutual interest, however, doesn’t guarantee a reunion. While it certainly sounds like a plausible scenario, for example, for James to find his way back to Pittsburgh, they could also quite realistic sign a more blocking-oriented tight end in free agency, or wait until the draft.
Likewise, if they felt strongly about Finney’s prospects of being a bridge starter, they wouldn’t have let him go in free agency last year. They have indicated that they view him as a backup, and that’s what they already have in J.C. Hassenauer. The next center of note that they add has to have a starter’s upside.
And let’s not forget that both positions have new coaches, who may have different views of these players, as well as of what they want to get out of the position.