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: G/C J.C. Hassenauer
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Hassenauer’s value went up significantly after Maurkice Pouncey announced his retirement, which I noted in a previous installment. Since then, however, the Steelers added B.J. Finney, who is a more experienced center and might presumably be ahead of him on the depth chart.
J.C Hassenauer got the opportunity to start four games last season for the Steelers, with three of them coming at center. He actually logged a total of a little more than 300 offensive snaps during the year, which is a pretty hefty amount for a backup.
But B.J. Finney, whom the Steelers brought back as a street free agent last month, is basically an upgraded version of the same player. The former Kansas State alumnus has five years of NFL playing experience, including a dozen starts a left and right guard as well as at center, with more than 1000 offensive snaps logged during that time, including a career-high 325 in 2019, during which he saw his most extensive action at center.
Finney’s return is obviously not to Hassenauer’s advantage, even if it is not a clear-cut example of the team bringing in somebody who is automatically above him on the depth chart. It is at least conceivable that the two would jockey for position later on this Summer.
Whether or not one of them will actually end up as the Steelers’ starting center for the season opener come September remains to be seen, but that is certainly also on the table, and may simply largely depend on whether or not they are able to draft a center whom they view as game-ready.
We still have a few more weeks before we get the chance to learn whether or not the team will be able to add any prominent rookie centers. If they don’t, then they won’t really have many options unless they can find a cheap veteran—like Stefen Wisniewski—on the street.