The Pittsburgh Steelers officially have a center under contract for 2021, signing J.C. Hassenauer to a one-year deal, according to this tweet from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Steelers sign center J.C. Hassenauer, an exclusive rights free agent, to a one-year deal, per source.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 4, 2021
The move was confirmed by Hassenauer’s agent, sharing this photo of him signing his contract.
— Blake Baratz (@blakebaratz) March 4, 2021
The deal is expected to be worth $780,000. It will use up just $120,000 in cap space.
Hassenauer was an exclusive rights free agent that all but assured he would return to the Steelers for this upcoming season. Undrafted out of Alabama, he originally signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in April of 2019. He saw his first NFL snaps this season, including starting four games at center and guard. His first career start came against Baltimore, replacing Maurkice Pouncey at the last moment about Pouncey was put on the Reserve/COVID list. In total, he saw 303 offensive snaps this season.
Despite his signing, the Steelers are almost certain to explore multiple avenues to upgrade the center position following Pouncey’s retirement. That may mean looking at veteran free agent options. We’ll have a list of possibilities in an article tomorrow on Steelers Depot. That could also mean looking at the draft. Prospects like Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, Alabama’s Landon Dickerson, and Pitt’s Jimmy Morrissey are all potential options. In true Kevin Colbert fashion, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him sign a veteran and spent a Day 1/2 pick on the position.
The two other Exclusive Rights Free Agents are ILBs Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen.