With the announcement of Ben Roethlisberger signing a new contract with the Steelers on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to make even more roster moves in the coming weeks. Just hours after the Roethlisberger news, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that exclusive rights free agent J.C. Hassenauer signed his tender with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steelers sign center J.C. Hassenauer, an exclusive rights free agent, to a one-year deal, per source.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 4, 2021
For those wondering how exclusive rights tenders works, the player has no negotiating power and is strictly at the mercy of the team if they choose to retain them. The contract is for one season and is at the NFL league minimum salary.
Knowing this, there was basically no downside with Hassenauer returning to the Steelers for 2021. With the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey, Hassenauer is the only center on the Steelers roster at this time.
After four years as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Hassenauer signed with the Atlanta Falcons after going undrafted in 2018. Spending most of the season on the practice squad, Hassenauer got his shot back at the NFL via the AAF with the Birmingham Iron. Signing with the Steelers in the 2019 offseason, Hassenauer made it through training camp but failed initially to make the team or the practice squad.
Hassenauer rejoined the Steelers in 2019 in November as a member of the practice squad. Hassenauer was activated to the Steelers roster for the final game of the 2019 season and was retained for 2020. Making the 53-man roster and holding his spot for the entire season, Hassenauer appeared in 15 games where he had four starts between the center and guard position for the Steelers.
While the Hassenauer signing has not been officially reported by the Steelers, it was posted on Twitter by his agent:
What a day! A second pool side signing of the day. @JCHassenauer heading back to @steelers. Congrats my dude. Well deserved. @TeamIFA pic.twitter.com/HcQ7XMIzqC— Blake Baratz (@blakebaratz) March 4, 2021
The Steelers have two other players who are also Exclusive Rights Free Agents in Marcus Allen and Robert Spillane. Based on both players seeing significant time during the 2020 season, there is no reason for the Steelers to not retain either one of them for the league minimum.
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