Steelers need to free up some cap space and sign a center in free agency

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

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The Steelers signed B.J. Finney to a one-year deal on Friday and they signed J.C. Hasenauer to a one-year deal four days earlier as well. The Steelers have a big void to fill at center with Maurkice Pouncey retiring last month, and Finney and Hasenauer are good depth players at the position.

I don't think the Steelers plan on having Finney as their starting center heading into the 2021 season, at least that's what I hope. It would be a massive mistake to have Finney as the starter. Finney is better suited as a guard than center, to begin with, and he wasn't all that impressive when he filled in for Pouncey in 2019.

Unless the Steelers select one of the three top centers in this year's draft -- Landon Dickerson of Alabama, Creed Humphrey of Oklahoma and Josh Myers of Ohio State -- there's really not a plug-and-play option in later rounds. And I expect the Steelers to go offensive tackle and running back in the first two rounds and the centers listed above all will likely be off the board by the third round.

That's why I think the Steelers should pay a decent amount for a center in free agency. The Steelers currently have around $5 million in salary-cap space, which isn't much, but they could free up some cap space via restructures, contract extensions, cuts, or cap casualties. Stephon Tuitt and Chris Boswell are candidates to have their contracts restructured and Steven Nelson could have his contracts extended to create cap space.

The Steelers could also save $4 million by cutting Vince Williams, or he could take a pay cut, and Joe Haden I think could receive a new contract at a lower rate. I would be surprised to see Haden as a cap casualty. So, the Steelers have options to free up some money and go after a center in free agency.