Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: iOL J.C. Hassenauer
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: The 2022 season wasn’t particularly eventful for the veteran interior offensive lineman since the Steelers were fortunate at the position in the health department. Hassenauer only played 46 snaps on offense, all at center due to minor injuries suffered in-game by Mason Cole.
What do you do when a seemingly competent reserve offensive lineman comes up for restricted free agency following a season during which he barely did anything? That’s where the Steelers are in 2023 with J.C. Hassenauer, who has grown over his time with the team, but had few opportunities to show it last season.
Despite the fact that he missed no time himself, he finished the year with fewer than 50 offensive snaps played. That’s a good thing for Pittsburgh because it meant that they had luck keeping their starters on the field. Between center Mason Cole and guards James Daniels and Kevin Dotson, there weren’t many snaps left to make up.
In actuality, all of those snaps came courtesy of Cole’s minor injuries. Both Dotson and Daniels played every single snap. Cole was the only lineman to miss more than one all season, and even he only sat out all of 46 snaps over 1,160 total played.
Hassenauer took all of them, 41 of which came against the Cincinnati Bengals after the bye. He filled in ably during that game, which proved to be his only significant playing time in all of 2022 during the regular season.
But it continued a trend that he began the year before in which his level of play improved and it became clearer that he had a preference for center over guard. While not exactly a starter in waiting, he figures to remain valuable to the Steelers.
That’s why I don’t think it would be too high a price for the team to offer him the right of first refusal tender as a restricted free agent. It would cost them a bit over $2.6 million, but that’s not too rich for a solid interior reserve, especially one whose strength is at center.
There probably won’t be a big market for him—possibly none at all, but I think they would consider entertaining any reasonable offer sheet he might get as well. After all, it’s not like they’re deep along the offensive line.