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: Down
Reasoning: The Steelers drafting Kendrick Green in the third round, though not a surprise, poses a direct challenge to B.J. Finney for his opportunity to enter the starting lineup, though should not seriously threaten his roster spot.
The Steelers wasted little time bringing back B.J. Finney, a former undrafted free agent whom they originally signed and developed into a player who earned a free agent contract last offseason, when they had the opportunity. That free agency odyssey didn’t work out. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be back. But Finney seems to be back where he belongs.
In fact, his signing was crucial at the time, coming shortly after Maurkice Pouncey, the team’s starting center for the past 11 years, announced his retirement. At the time, J.C. Hassenauer was the only center on the roster. Bringing the more experienced Finney back at least gave them another, more comforting option.
But now he is clearly in the position of challenger, I think, after the Steelers drafted Kendrick Green in the third round. Though not a natural center (in fact, he started out on the defensive side of the ball), he is the immediate frontrunner for the job, as he fits the mold of what they are looking for out of the position.
With that said, it’s not guaranteed that Green is ready to start right away. Even Pouncey and David DeCastro had to earn their jobs. In the event that he needs some more development, Finney could still start out the year on the field.
Even if that doesn’t happen, though, I would imagine he is still the most likely option to serve as the top interior reserve on gameday, or at least the top backup center. With the opportunity to dress eight linemen that was adopted last season, it’s no longer necessary to have an interior reserve who plays both guard and center.