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 will be on the 53-man roster and B.J. Finney will not.
Explanation: A former undrafted interior lineman out of Alabama, Hassenauer is going into his second (accrued) season, and is currently listed as the Steelers’ starting center, though we all know Kendrick Green has been playing with the ones. But he appears to be ahead of B.J. Finney, which may mean he makes it and Finney does not.
It’s been made abundantly clear that the Steelers have J.C. Hassenauer ahead of B.J. Finney, even if the depth chart from head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t already make that clear. He’s been the one running at center when Kendrick Green is not there, for starters, and that is the most important responsibility.
And then you have the Rashaad Coward factor, whom Tomlin won’t even yet say is the backup to Kevin Dotson at left guard, even though it seems inevitable. But you don’t promote a guy as a starter and then not even have him make the team.
Finney was originally brought in after the Cincinnati Bengals cut him, following Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement, but well before the draft. He was an emergency option, and now they have John Leglue honing his center skills to prepare to be the third center (on the practice squad), with Hassenauer and Coward as your interior reserves.
Why has Finney seemingly been treated like a guy who is close to the bottom of the roster? Because they already have all of the information on him that they could possibly need, that’s why. They already know what he can do. They have a lot less information on guys like Hassenauer, Coward, and Dotson. It’s not because they just see him as a third-string guy.
Hassenauer defaulted to the ‘starter’ role because he was the only returning center from last season’s roster. They only failed to re-sign and retain Finney last year because the Seahawks offered him a better deal than they were willing to pay, and an opportunity to move into the starting lineup. Just because they were able to get him back cheap in a very depressed market with the salary cap plummeting doesn’t mean they don’t value him.