2023 Stock Watch – C J.C. Hassenauer – Sold

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: C J.C. Hassenauer

Stock Value: Sold

Reasoning: In a move of mild surprise, the Steelers not only elected to pass on tendering restricted free agent center J.C. Hassenauer, but also watched as he signed with another team. Having spent the past couple of seasons as the team’s backup center, he is now a member of the New York Giants. Terms of his deal have not yet been reported, but it is likely under the value of the restricted tender.

It is somewhat curious, at least from the outside, and to some, that the Steelers seemed to show little interest in continuing their relationship with center J.C. Hassenauer after four seasons. Originally signed as an AAF castoff in 2019, he spent the past three years on the 53-man roster over which span he logged more than 600 offensive snaps.

Averaging about 30 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps in each of his first two full seasons in 2020 and 2021, the only reason his workload diminished last year was because the team was very fortunate in the health front. Only center Mason Cole missed any significant amount of time, and they only came to 46 snaps over 17 games.

While he was rough around in the edges early on, Hassenauer’s play as a reserve stepped up in 2021, and even last season in spite of a limited body of work. That is why it was surprising to some that the Steelers made no effort to keep him.

Confusing still is the fact that they currently remain without an experienced reserve who is also a natural center. They may have Kendrick Green, who was behind Hassenauer on the depth chart in 2022, and Ryan McCollum, but right now their best number two center would probably be…starting right guard James Daniels.

One strongly gets the sense that the team will have to add another center-capable reserve over the course of the offseason to take Hassenauer’s place now that he is gone. It is unlikely that they will rely on either a backup who is not a natural center or a musical chairs scenario in which they slide a starting guard over to center as an injury fill-in.

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