The Pittsburgh Steelers had veteran center Maurkice Pouncey retire on Friday and that now leaves the team with a huge hole at that position four weeks away from the start of the 2021 league year. Currently, the team has J.C. Hassenauer, a former undrafted free agent out of Alabama, as essentially the only player that could replace Pouncey and that assumes they give him an exclusive rights tender in the next four weeks.
While there certainly are a few fine centers to be had in the 2021 NFL Draft, there’s no guarantee the Steelers will be able to select one of them. Because of that, there’s probably a good chance the Steelers attempt to add an experienced and cheap center at some point during free agency.
Sure, David Andrews of the New England Patriots and converted guard Austin Blythe of the Los Angeles Rams figure to hit free agency soon, but at what market value? Andrews has had some recent injury history as well. Both also might command at least $3 million in 2021. In short, the Steelers might need to set their sights much lower than those two.
Here’s another thing to consider. There is probably no way the Cincinnati Bengals will pay B.J. Finney $3.1 million he is due in 2021 so that sets up a chance for the Steelers to maybe sign him back as a minimum salary player in the offseason. Finney would need to be cut by the Bengals for that to happen and it just might happen in the next four weeks.
The Steelers aren’t likely to go into the 2021 NFL Draft with such a big hole at the center position so expect them to sign at least one free agent center in the coming weeks and for them to exclusive rights tender Hassenauer at the minimum level.
The Steelers could still address the center position at some point during the draft and likely will. Even so, having a more experienced one on the roster ahead then should be in their plans as well.