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J.C. Hassenauer could play important depth role on Giants in 2023

Hassenauer is the only true center among the Giants’ backup offensive linemen

NFL: DEC 18 Steelers at Panthers
J.C. Hassenauer
Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the New York Giants picked up J.C. Hassenauer as a free agent, there was a section of the fan base who thought that they’d somehow choose to have him start. Selecting John Michael Schmitz in the second round laid that to rest, but Hassenauer could still possibly play a role on the team.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 295
Age: 27
Position: Center
Experience: 3
Contract: One-year, $1.035 million | Guaranteed at signing: $200,000 | 2023 cap hit: $1.035 million

Career to date

Hassenauer was originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of Alabama. He did not make their roster and was assigned to the practice squad, from which he was released and re-signed several times, as well. The Steelers signed him in 2019 and then followed the same pattern of signing and releasing him.

2020 was when Hassenauer finally cracked Pittsburgh’s active roster, as he appeared in 15 games for them, starting four and seeing playing time as a special teamer. He had a 57.7 Pro Football Focus grade on 303 total offensive snaps. 2021 was more of the same for Hassenauer as a backup center and occasional guard who made three total starts, appearing in 13 games with a PFF grade of 67.7 on offense. He was placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury in late November, which kept him out for four weeks.

In 2022, Hassenauer remained a backup, participating in games on special teams and getting just 46 total offensive snaps over the course of the season.

The Giants signed Hassenauer to a minimum contract this offseason.

2023 outlook

Before the draft, Hassenauer was the only true center on the Giants roster. Ben Bredeson can move there in a pinch but is a natural guard. It stands to reason that the Giants could use some depth at the position beyond relying on Bredeson, who will enter training camp as the starting left guard. That gives Hassenauer a shot at making the roster.

However, a player who is pretty much a true center without extensive experience at other positions is often not considered the best use of resources. Most backup centers can also play guard more easily. Hassenauer did play 144 snaps at left guard for the Steelers in 2020 and 2021, and he actually started two games there in his senior season at Alabama.

Still, the Giants may prefer to keep around one of their other guards and have Bredeson as the backup center. That could push Hassenauer off the team, which means that he is fighting for a roster spot in camp.

Ed Valentine had him making the team in our first post-draft roster breakdown. What do you think, Giants fans? Does Hassenauer pass muster?