Once regularly referred to as a proverbial “starter in waiting,” B.J. Finney departed from the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency last year, signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks. He hoped to compete there for a starting job at one of the interior offensive line positions.
As we now well know, things didn’t work out there. The pandemic didn’t help matters, either. He ended up being traded to the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2020 season, who released him earlier this offseason. But, he told Teresa Varley for the team’s website, he knew he wouldn’t be sitting on the couch for very long.
“It was within a couple of days of being released by Cincinnati that Mr. (Kevin) Colbert and Omar (Khan) reached out to my agents,” he said. “They were like, ‘Pittsburgh is interested in bringing you back. We can work out the details and see what takes place.’”
But he also said that there were other teams involved as well. Even though things didn’t work out last year, it did also show that he was a commodity around the league. One team was willing to pay him $4 million per season, and another was willing to trade for him (even if he wasn’t the main feature of the trade). Still, he wasn’t in a rush to sign anywhere else.
“A couple of other teams were interested but didn’t know what they had with the salary cap and so forth,” he said. “We were stern and said tell us what you are going to offer, or I will be on a plane to Pittsburgh. Fast forward a couple of days and I was headed back to Pittsburgh.”
With 11-year veteran center Maurkice Pouncey retiring, there is a good chance that Finney finds himself competing for a starting job back “home,” as he calls it, in Pittsburgh. For the moment, his competition will be second-year J.C. Hassenauer, who started two games there last season.
It remains to be seen how it will unfold. There is a very good chance the Steelers add to their center-capable pool shortly, through the 2021 NFL Draft. Landon Dickerson and Creed Humphrey are a couple of names that we have seen in mock drafts, as well as Quinn Meinerz.
Finney originally found his way to Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent, signing out of Kansas State in 2015. He spent the bulk of his rookie season on the practice squad before making the 53-man roster a year later. Over the course of the next four seasons, he would start 12 games. Five were at center, five at left guard, and two at right guard.