Asked and Answered: Feb. 22

Posted Feb 22, 2018

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

Let’s get to it:

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the Feb. 15 installment of Asked and Answered, I wrote that the Steelers would receive a sixth-round draft pick for trading Ross Cockrell to the New York Giants. I was incorrect. The compensation is a seventh-round pick.

How much extra (overall) revenue does winning a Super Bowl bring to a franchise?

ANSWER: In the NFL, all ticket revenue from all postseason games go to the league to be divided up and shared, but the league does pay each team what I will refer to as “a participation fee” for each round of the postseason the team reaches. When it gets to the Super Bowl, both teams are paid that fee, but at this stage the winning team receives more than the losing team. The team that wins the Super Bowl also figures to add additional revenue from the sale of merchandise.

Will Steelers management do anything specific regarding social media activity among the players?

ANSWER: This is what Steelers President Art Rooney II said recently about how he views his players’ activity on social media: “I think you have to be realistic about the world we live in. Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. It’s a mixed blessing. On the good side of it, our fans love to engage with our players, and players enjoy engaging with the fans. From that standpoint it’s just another way for the fans to enjoy being part of the team. Here and there you are going to have something that maybe you wish didn’t get out there. But that’s life in 2018. It’s something you have to be aware of. There are going to be occasions where you have to call a guy in and have a conversation about it, and we do that. It’s a mixed blessing, but probably more of a blessing than a curse.”

What are your thoughts on picking up newly released Brian Cushing?

ANSWER: In my personal opinion, I would have no interest in Brian Cushing. He will be 31 years old on July 24, and he already has served two separate suspensions for testing positive for PEDs. In the last four seasons, he has played 48 total games because of injuries/suspension, and in those 48 games he has 2.5 sacks, no interceptions, and six passes defensed. The Steelers have better players on their roster right now.

Don't you think that it’s the quarterback who makes the coach? Mike Tomlin has been lucky enough to have the same quarterback his whole head coaching career. I think a true test of how good a coach is comes when he doesn't have a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback.

ANSWER: Chuck Noll had Terry Bradshaw and won four Super Bowls. Don Shula had Johnny Unitas and then Dan Marino. Vince Lombardi had Bart Starr. Paul Brown had Otto Graham. Tom Landry had Roger Staubach. Bill Walsh had Joe Montana. In New England Bill Belichick has Tom Brady, but when he had Vinny Testaverde in Cleveland he got fired. Mike Holmgren had Brett Favre. I don’t know what point you’re trying to make, but most of the greatest coaches in NFL history worked with great quarterbacks.

Why is it that star players at the peak of their game are offered so little in trade value, even when they are in their mid-20s with years of productivity ahead of them? I've noticed many examples over the years of "difference makers" getting traded for No. 3 or No. 4 draft picks.

ANSWER: It all has to do with the salary cap. After the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2011 was ratified, and with it a rather strict salary scale was implemented for incoming rookies, draft choices – especially high draft choices – became even more valuable. Take the Browns’ second pick in the first round of the upcoming draft – fourth overall – and look at why the team would be foolish to trade that pick for Le’Veon Bell, for example, based on the economics.

Last year’s fourth overall pick was running back Leonard Fournette, and he signed a four-year contract worth $27.2 million. So essentially, the Jaguars get four years of Fournette for what Bell figures to command over two years. Fournette is a rookie with no NFL carries on his body, while a player like Bell is going to come with more years and more physical abuse on his body.

NFL teams would rather pick their own player and develop him as opposed to trading for a ready-made, but likely more expensive, veteran version.

If we use the non-exclusive franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, and he signs an offer sheet that we don't match, we get two first-round picks from the signing team as compensation for him? Do we get the signing team’s No. 1 pick according to their draft position? That could serve us well looking for Ben Roethlisberger's replacement next year, don't you think?

ANSWER: In the scenario you describe, the Steelers would get the signing team’s first-round pick in both 2018 and 2019. With Ben Roethlisberger saying he wants to play three more seasons, it’s too early to be looking for his successor in 2018. Maybe in 2019, but that would have to be determined based on what happened in 2018.

Do you think that the Steelers could trade Landry Jones and Mike Mitchell for draft picks in April?

ANSWER: The Steelers are not trading Landry Jones. He is the backup quarterback.

You presented this stat in the tight ends version of your Steelers-By-Position series: "Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, Steelers tight ends have been voted to four Pro Bowls. Steelers placekickers have been voted to six." After reading in another article that Heath Miller went to two pro bowls, who represented the other two?

ANSWER: Eric Green went to two Pro Bowls as well.

When a position coach is hired during this period of the season (like Tom Bradley), does the coach only work with video to provide input into the free agency/draft moves? Does he have any contact with players? Does the CBA prevent him from asking players to show up for “meetings/workouts?”

ANSWER: There is no contact with players for newly-hired assistant coaches until that point of the offseason program where such interaction is allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Steelers’ new position coaches – Tom Bradley, Karl Dunbar, and Darryl Drake – won’t get a look at their veteran players until OTAs begin sometime in late May.

If we sign a long-term deal with Le’Veon Bell before the franchise tag deadline, who would you like to see us use the tag on? I think Chris Hubbard would be very valuable to keep for one more year.

ANSWER: The only players who can be designated for the franchise tag are those who are on the cusp of becoming unrestricted free agents. For the Steelers this offseason, that list includes the following players: Le’Veon Bell, Arthur Moats, Chris Hubbard, Justin Hunter, Stevan Ridley, Sean Spence, and Daniel McCullers. None of those players, in my estimation, is worth the one-year salary that comes along with the franchise tag. In the specific case of Hubbard, the franchise tag tender for offensive linemen in 2017 was $14.1 million, and you cannot actually be suggesting the Steelers should spend that amount on a backup offensive tackle.

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