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: OL B.J. Finney
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers announced yesterday that they signed interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney to a one-year contract.
It’s difficult to bounce back, at least in a hurry, when you are a depth player who is moving to a new team as a fringe starter candidate, only to fail to succeed in doing so. And your best chance of rebounding is going back where you started and had your first success—especially when there is a sudden opportunity.
It seems then that for the second time, the Steelers fit like a glove for B.J. Finney, who originally signed with the team as a college free agent in 2016. Although he spent his rookie season on the practice squad–in part because he suffered an injury at the end of the preseason–he would go on to have a successful four-year career here on the 53-man roster as a quality backup and spot starter.
Things didn’t work out with the Seattle Seahawks last year for a variety of reasons after they signed him to a two-year, $8 million deal. In fact, it worked out so poorly that they ended up including him in a trade to acquire Carlos Dunlap from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now the Bengals released him, and he re-signed with the Steelers yesterday on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract that will pay him close to $1 million. And he comes back to a team that is minus Maurkice Pouncey, their nine-time Pro Bowl center, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
As it stands right now, Finney is the Steelers’ starting center, with J.C. Hassenauer the only other player on the 90-man roster who is capable of playing the position in more than an emergency capacity. The draft could change that, but even if they do draft a center relatively high, he’s not guaranteed to win a starting job out of the gate.
Regardless of how things play out in terms of his being a full-time starter this season, returning to the Steelers was probably the best-case scenario for both sides, and something that we have predicted had a great chance of happening for months now.
At worst, he will be the top interior reserve for all three spots, and as such, will likely be starting at least a couple of games. And if he settles in as a long-term interior reserve making about $1 million or so a year for his favorite team, well, there are worse jobs out there.