2023 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Re-Sign C J.C. Hassenauer?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Will the Steelers re-sign J.C. Hassenauer?

While the Steelers have addressed the interior offensive line with reasonable thoroughness already this offseason, one spot that they lack for the moment is a credible reserve who is a natural center. J.C. Hassenauer has filled that role for the past three seasons, though he did not see the field much in 2022.

A restricted free agent earlier this year, Hassenauer remains unsigned after the Steelers declined to tender him. He was one of three significant restricted free agents, none of whom they tendered. The Steelers have re-signed one, cornerback James Pierre, while another, wide receiver Steven Sims, signed elsewhere. Hassenauer met with the New York Giants in the middle of last week but left unsigned.

For the moment, the Steelers’ top interior linemen project to be Isaac Seumalo, Mason Cole, and James Daniels. All three are capable of playing center, but teams are reluctant to make one of their starting guards the backup center as their top option unless in the event of a long-term injury.

Kevin Dotson, a two-year starter, is limited exclusively to guard. Nate Herbig was signed this offseason, and has some limited center experience, but it’s a position he’s picked up and learned rather than growing into as a football player. There is also Ryan McCollum, a Texas A&M product with limited experience who does play center. And of course there is Kendrick Green, who was inactive for every game last season behind Hassenauer.

The Steelers don’t have to re-sign Hassenauer, specifically, but I’m inclined to assume that they will want to bring another veteran in for the offseason. Somebody like Nick Martin or Matt Skura could serve as a cheap veteran alternative, though at that point I don’t see why they wouldn’t just re-sign Hassenauer.

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