The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: B.J. Finney could be the odd man out along the offensive line.
Explanation: After adding three free agents and two draft picks, while losing three starters, the Steelers have one pedigreed/experienced offensive lineman more than they will typically carry on the 53-man roster, which is nine. Finney’s primary competitors will be J.C. Hassenauer and Rashaad Coward, barring injury.
Hassenauer and Coward combined to make nine starts last year. Finney didn’t even manage to play a single snap on offense in spite of the fact that he was the only one of the group to be an unrestricted free agent and was able to choose his destination. The Seattle Seahawks gave him a strong offer, and then they traded him mid-season after he lost out on a starting job.
Coward has the versatility to play either guard or tackle, with good size, and an aggressive demeanor that fits with what the Steelers are trying to instill into their group. As for Hassenauer, he started four games last year, at both guard and center. The coaching staff likes him a lot more than fans might realize.
2020 was a bad year, particularly professionally, for Finney, but that can be said of millions of people around the country. The circumstances he was in last year contributed to his being out of shape, which led to his failures with Seattle. Those circumstances no longer exist, and he has already said that he is physically in a better place, with the ability to regularly work out and train again.
And he is simply better than Coward or Hassenauer. A lot of people seem to want to focus on 2020. I’d rather remind myself of the 2016-2019 seasons, during which some of these same people were calling him a starter in waiting and the heir apparent at left guard.
That’s now Kevin Dotson, but there isn’t a better option for a bridge center if Kendrick Green isn’t ready, or as the primary backup interior offensive lineman if Green is. Hassenauer has the more recent experience, but once Finney gets the pads on, and Adrian Klemm gets a real feel for him, it’ll be clear that he is one of their top nine linemen.