It says a lot about the low-key nature of an offseason when bringing back a veteran swing interior offensive line reserve is one of the more exciting moves that you made, but that is often par for the course for the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was how the news was received when it was reported that they were bringing back B.J. Finney, who left in free agency a year before.
While Finney’s gone through a lot of changes over the past year, so have the Steelers. Both center Maurkice Pouncey and left guard Matt Feiler gone. Finney has a chunk of time starting at both positions, more than anybody else currently on the roster. Missi Matthews interviewed him recently and asked him what his goal is for this season.
“Honestly, it’s wherever I can fit in the best. Obviously along the interior three,” Finney said. “If that’s at center, then so be it, I’ll play center. If I can start at guard again, I’d love to start at guard. It’s just wherever I can be the most beneficial and see the most playing time, and honestly to be left alone, that I can develop in one spot and get the finer details into that position. That’s what I want.”
Center is the more realistic option. The Steelers have second-year guard Kevin Dotson waiting in the wings to play left guard. Even if we were to assume that Finney might be better at guard right now than Dotson, it’s also equally likely that a guard-center pairing of Dotson-Finney is preferable to one of Finney-J.C. Hassenauer.
Originally undrafted out of Kansas State in 2015, the lifelong Steelers fan made an emotional announcement to his friends and family after the draft that he would be signing with Pittsburgh. In part due to a late preseason injury, Finney spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad. Late in the year, though, they did boost his pay to the equivalent of a rostered salary.
Finney would then spend the next four years on the 53-man roster. During that time he would make 12 total starts at center and guard. If memory serves, he ultimately made five starts at center by the end of his career (three coming in 2019), with five at left guard, and two at right guard.
As recently as midway through the 2019 season, many viewed Finney as a starter in-waiting. He was the presumptive successor to Ramon Foster’s spot at left guard once the Big Ragu would decide to retire.
Instead, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks and Matt Feiler took over there. Feiler left in free agency, signing a deal worth a fair deal more than Finney’s. What Finney does with his second shot back in Pittsburgh is, as Mike Tomlin told him, in his hands.