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: J.C. Hassenauer is very much in the mix to start at center.
Explanation: While everybody is focusing on Kendrick Green, the rookie, with a secondary glance in the direction of veteran reserve B.J. Finney, it is Hassenauer who has evidently played the most snaps at center so far this offseason.
People were surprised when Hassenauer made the 53-man roster last year. They were surprised when the Steelers made him their top backup center after an injury to Stefen Wisniewski, and subsequently cut him. They may be surprised if Hassenauer is in the hunt to start at center. Given his history, they shouldn’t be.
The Alabama product is a player who has defied the odds more than once. If you really look at it, it’s not as though he has the steepest competition. B.J. Finney, for one, isn’t on a much different playing field, and he flamed out in free agency last year.
As for Kendrick Green, not only is he a rookie, he is a novice at the center position. Let’s make sure he even knows what he’s doing first. It’s still entirely possible that Green’s long-term future is actually at guard when David DeCastro retires, rather than in the middle.
Aside from his rather unremarkable history, the biggest thing working against Hassenauer is that he doesn’t really fit into what seems to be Adrian Klemm’s philosophy he’s trying to instill. For one thing, he’s not necessarily the most physical and imposing player. And he doesn’t have the athleticism to make up for it.
This is a guy who started out in the AAF as a backup center. Hassenauer was a backup in a league that failed halfway through its inaugural season. He wasn’t even on the practice squad in 2019 until a team claimed another center off waivers. He is a deep cut. Finney is the familiar guy. Green is the new and talented guy. It depends on how loose you want to be with what ‘in the mix’ means, but you can safely bet he won’t be starting by virtue of winning a competition.