Asked and Answered: Feb. 20

Posted Feb 20, 2018

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

Of the new coaches, I think the biggest asset will be Tom Bradley with his proven track record on defense. I feel he can make a huge impact and can also help defensive coordinator Keith Butler in various areas.

ANSWER: Here is what General Manager Kevin Colbert said about Tom Bradley’s potential impact on the coaching staff: “Coach Bradley, the interesting thing about Tom is he is coming from the collegiate ranks, and if you are familiar with college football and what is kind of leaking into our league, there are some of those aspects of a college offense that are leaking into our game. So having somebody coming from the college ranks who may be able to help you defend some of those things I think is a positive.”

What is the average salary of an NFL assistant coach, also for an offensive and defensive coordinator?

ANSWER: It should be understood that the salaries of NFL coaches are not subjected to a salary cap, and so there can be wide variations from team to team. But generally, NFL coordinators are paid close to $1 million per season on average, while position coaches are in the $200,000-$300,000 per season range.

Not sure if you’ve done it before, but exactly how does reworking contracts work, specifically making salary a signing bonus? Does the newly designated signing bonus count against the cap later, or does it just not count?

ANSWER: For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume the player has a five-year contract that is to pay him $1 million a year. That means his salary cap hit in each of the five seasons is $1 million.

In year two of the deal, the team is looking for salary cap relief, and so it proposes a restructuring that converts $800,000 of the year two $ 1 million salary into a signing bonus. That means the player is paid $800,000 of the $1 million he would have earned up front, and then he would earn the rest of his money -- $200,000 – over the course of the season. That means his cap number in year two drops from $1 million to $400,000 – because the $800,000 is then spread over the final four years of the contract, which works out to $200,000 per year for cap purposes and is added to the $200,000 in salary to reduce his cap number from $1 million to $400,000 in year two.

But then his cap number in years three, four, and five of the deal rise from $1 million to $1.2 million each year. Converting salary into a signing bonus is a temporary fix that gives a team some immediate salary cap relief in exchange for higher cap numbers for the same player down the road. It’s similar to using one credit card to pay off the balance on another credit card.

In a previous installment you mentioned the "senior" part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was wondering if you would be able to explain this?

ANSWER: The following explanation is taken directly from the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, which is

“To assure that older players, whose active careers have been completed at least 25 years (earlier), as well as those individuals who contributed to the game in ways other than playing and coaching will be considered along with the Modern-Era players and coaches, a Seniors Committee and a Contributors Committee have been established. Each of these committees are made up of nine veteran members of the overall Selection Committee.

“Like the full Committee, the members of the Seniors Committee and the Contributors Committee are provided a preliminary list of eligible nominees.  The list, which is compiled and mailed to the selectors, includes carry-over nominations from the previous year, first-time eligible candidates, and nominations from any outside source.

“By way of a mail ballot, the Senior Committee members reduce the list to 15 Senior Nominee finalists.   The Contributors Committee reduces their list to 10 Contributor Nominee finalists. Five members of the nine-man Seniors Committee, selected on a rotating basis, are designated to attend the annual Seniors Committee meeting held in Canton, where they are charged with the responsibility of nominating candidate(s) from that list to be among the 18 finalists for Hall of Fame election.  The same procedure is followed by the Contributors Committee who also meet annually in Canton.

“In advance of both meetings, each selector is provided with detailed biographical information on the candidates.

“Seniors Committee members are assisted during their annual meeting by two Hall of Fame consultants, chosen by the Hall’s President, who were contemporaries of the majority of the nominees.  The consultants offer only their opinions and are not entitled to vote.  After each candidate is discussed thoroughly, the consultants are excused from the meeting.  Additional discussion is conducted followed by a series of reduction votes that results in the naming of the Senior Nominee(s).

“Contributors Committee members are also assisted during their annual meeting by two consultants and follow the same guidelines as described above for the Seniors Committee consultants.

“Although the Senior Nominee(s) and Contributor Nominee(s) will be presented to the full Selection Committee as finalists, their election to the Hall of Fame is not automatic.  The Senior Nominee(s) and Contributor Nominee(s) must receive the same minimum 80 percent of the vote as a Modern-Era candidate to be elected.”

Was Josh Dobbs drafted to be molded into Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement for when he retires, or just to be Landry Jones’ backup? Do the coaches have a plan for both quarterbacks in the future?

ANSWER: There usually are not strict limitations placed on players when they are drafted, because the team’s preference is to find out first what it has in a player once it gets him into its system and sees him working on a daily basis. When it comes to quarterbacks, the Steelers have learned from recent experience – recurring injuries to Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich – that it can be a better idea to draft and groom backup quarterbacks instead of signing older veterans and hoping they can stay healthy enough to be available when needed.

Landry Jones was drafted in 2013 when Roethlisberger still was in his prime, and Joshua Dobbs was drafted at a time when it was possible Jones could leave the team as an unrestricted free agent to pursue a starting opportunity with another team. Teams don’t pick quarterbacks on the third day of a draft with the expectation that the player is going to develop into a franchise quarterback, but once the player gets himself immersed into the system and practices regularly that team also isn’t going to place any artificial limitations on his career.

The Patriots didn’t expect Tom Brady to become the player he is today when they used a sixth-round pick on him in the 2000 NFL Draft, but once they discovered what they had they also didn’t stand in his way. People who make the case that the Patriots were so smart to pick Brady when they did are mis-reading the situation. They were far more lucky than smart, because if they actually had any idea what they were getting, they wouldn’t have risked passing on him five times before making the decision to draft him. Using the first overall pick of any draft on Tom Brady would’ve been a bargain.

Is there any chance Lawrence Timmons comes back to the Steelers or has that ship sailed?

ANSWER: Last year, Lawrence Timmons signed a two-year contract with the Miami Dolphins. He is under contract to them through the 2018 season.

You stated in the Feb. 15 Asked and Answered that the fifth-year option the Steelers exercised as a part of Ryan Shazier’s rookie contract is fully guaranteed for injury. Because he is injured, does his salary still count against the cap?


In what round do you believe the Steelers will address their "quarterback of the future" in this year's draft?

ANSWER: I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which the Steelers try to draft a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger this April.

What would you think of trading Le’Veon Bell to the Browns for their No. 4 overall pick in the first round and Duke Johnson?

ANSWER: I think if you would propose that trade to Cleveland General Manager John Dorsey, he would laugh in your face.

If Cleveland starts winning with Todd Haley how quickly will you get questions from his previous haters asking why the Steelers let him go?

ANSWER: I was getting those before Todd Haley even was hired by the Browns.

I'm not expecting an answer for this because I don't think you have the nerve to do it. It appears you dodge legit questions for the easy sarcastic ones that don't take as much effort. But here it goes, however you want to answer: is the NFL rigged?

ANSWER: Questions like this make me believe Asked and Answered is rigged.

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