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What do the Seahawks have in B.J. Finney?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

When the Seattle Seahawks signed B.J. Finney as a free agent in the spring, many fans were optimistic he could help improve the team’s pass protection following a 2019 season that saw both Justin Britt and Joey Hunt play the majority of their snaps injured. Britt, of course, first injured his knee early in the season opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals, before tearing his ACL in Week 8. Hunt, meanwhile, played the majority of the second half of the 2019 season with a stress fracture suffered in his first start in relief of Britt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Thus, it made sense to many when Seattle added Finney early in free agency. He had been stuck behind eight time Pro Bowl, two time All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Seahawks were looking at Justin Britt attempting to return from ACL reconstruction and Hunt a disappointment to many in his first extended playing time. Add in the idea and argument that Finney’s extra bulk relative to Hunt provided extra value in the flexibility to play guard, as he more closely resembles the type of massive mauler offensive line coach Mike Solari looks for from guards than Hunt, and the reasoning behind the signing seemed to make sense.

However, once training camp opened it quickly emerged that Finney was slipping down the depth chart at center. Fourth year man Ethan Pocic was taking snaps with the first team, and even Kyle Fuller, who had started just two games over three seasons with the Houston Texans and Washington Football Team, was lining up with the second team. There were multiple reports that Finney was struggling to pick up the offense and line calls in a new system, which is not unreasonable. Further, it’s completely reasonable for a team to want to ensure those line calls are correct in order to protect a franchise quarterback like Russell Wilson.

Then the Week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys happened.

On the fourth play of the game starting right guard rookie Damien Lewis was lost for the day to an ankle injury, and then later in the game left guard Mike Iupati injured a knee and missed eight snaps. And that’s when Finney’s utility, or lack thereof, came starkly into focus. Needing to dig into depth at guard, the Hawks called on Jordan Simmons and Jamarco Jones to fill the shoes of Iupati and Lewis.

That meant that for the third straight week the game finished without Finney having logged a single snap on the offensive side of the ball in spite of the Seahawks playing five different offensive linemen on the interior over the course of the game.

This brings things to the question of what Seattle has in Finney, and whether he’ll even be active in the coming weeks. Fuller, by all reports, was ahead of Finney on the depth chart during training camp, and following a two week suspension it seems probable that at some point Fuller will take the reins as the backup center with swing guard versatility off the bench. In addition, if Fuller is ahead of Finney on the depth chart at center, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to also be ahead of Finney on the depth chart at guard, which could lead to Finney being a healthy scratch.

That would seem to be unlikely with the Hawks particularly hard hit by injuries early in the season, but it remains entirely possible if Simmons and Iupati remain available once Lewis returns to the field and Fuller is back up to speed. However, if Finney is no better than the third option at center and sixth option at guard for Seattle, it brings back a question that many have been asking for the better part of the past decade: Who in the Seattle front office is ultimately responsible for scouting offensive linemen?