Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 21

Let's get to it:

AUSTIN TIBBS FROM FULTON, KY:
Love these chats. I have a question that's been bothering me. Since Troy Polamalu always had a knack for pass rushing is it crazy to believe the team should have brought him back at a veteran minimum contract to help out with situational pass rushing? Wouldn't it help our pressure? Plus, he would be around to mentor the younger players for one last season, especially Shamarko Thomas who will be in his first season as a starter.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu had a lot of defining plays throughout his career, take a look at some.

Troy Polamalu retired from the NFL, and there has to be some acceptance by fans that he didn't want to be a professional football player anymore. And being a professional football player requires a seven-day-a-week commitment once training camp opens as well as offseasons preparing your body for that commitment. Polamalu doesn't need the money that a minimum contract would bring him, and why would he want to end his great playing career as a part-time anything? Polamalu's abilities as a pass-rusher came from the element of surprise, and the quickness and burst to take advantage of that element of surprise, and so he would be handled easily by NFL offensive tackles if they knew he was coming. Maybe Shamarko Thomas becomes a player, and maybe he doesn't, but it's now up to him to make it happen for himself. The mentoring time for him is over. As is Troy Polamalu's magnificent NFL career.**

REGINALD BROWN FROM SAN DIEGO, CA:
Speculation here in San Diego is the Chargers may be in tear-down mode in anticipation of a move to Los Angeles. Your opinion on a trade sending Shamarko Thomas and a No. 4 pick to the Chargers for Eric Weddle? A chance to perhaps get Troy's replacement on the cheap, especially with this draft being short on talent at safety.

If I owned the San Diego Chargers and was planning to move the team to Los Angeles, I would be interested in keeping my quality players – not unloading them in lopsided trades – because the idea would be to win over the new fan base and the potentially new corporate partners to induce them to open their wallets and buy tickets and sign up for sponsorships. Eric Weddle is 30, and he is a two-time first-team All-Pro, the most recent being in 2014, and in 109 starts since 2008 he has 19 interceptions and 68 passes defensed. All that makes Weddle one of the Chargers' core players. Another issue to come up recently is Weddle is seeking an extension on his contract that will pay him $7.5 million in its final year this year, and so any trade would have to include an extension for him where he certainly would expect a raise. I cannot for the life of me understand how this trade could get made.

JERED KOVACH FROM HERMITAGE, PA:
Looking at the pre-draft roster it seems the only real options at kickoff returner are Markus Wheaton and Dri Archer. Is the team comfortable with that moving forward, or would they be looking for a guy with return experience in the back end of the draft?

Maybe kickoff return ability pushes the Steelers toward one position player over another in the mid-to-late rounds, but I cannot see them spending a pick on a guy whose only attribute is that he has return ability. The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII during a 2008 season in which their leading kickoff returner was Gary Russell, as in almost-as-slow-as-me Gary Russell. Dri Archer has to be looking at that job as his best chance at an NFL career, and Markus Wheaton should see it as a chance for him to get his hands on the ball in the open field more often. My contention is the Steelers have better-than-most options at kickoff returner with those two guys than a lot of teams.

CLARENCE CRAWLEY FROM SMYRNA, TN:
Cortez Allen signed a big contract last offseason. Do you think he simply relaxed once that was done? We have seen this countless times over the years with NFL players (LaMarr Woodley) whose play declined almost before the ink dried on the contract.

I'm not going to try to get into Cortez Allen's head, but he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy to coast just because he has some money in the bank. If anything, I'd guess Allen was trying too hard to do too much to justify the faith the team showed in him by signing him to that contract, and somewhere along the way he lost his confidence. Remember, Allen played college football at The Citadel, and so it's not like he came to the NFL with a lot of experience of having faced big-time receivers in hostile environments. I would imagine it takes a degree of mental toughness to survive military school, and that element of it is going to be an important part of Cortez Allen working his way back to the mind-set of an NFL starting cornerback.

MIKE ROBERTS FROM CECILIA, LA:
I read that Mike Tomlin was thinking of moving Mike Mitchell to strong safety. I feel like that would be his best position as he is a good tackler and good against the run. Do you know if this is true? And if so, do you think we would go after a guy like Landon Collins in the first or Gerod Holliman in the second or third to play free safety?

This was the exact exchange between Mike Tomlin and the reporter, and it happened at the NFL Owners Meetings: Q: Would (Mike) Mitchell be a possible candidate at strong safety depending on what happens with Polamalu? Tomlin: "I'm not opposed to it." Based on my experience, that's Tomlin being completely non-committal, and it reveals nothing. Which is his plan, by the way. One thing to consider is the Steelers safety positions are somewhat interchangeable, even though more distinctive roles developed toward the end of Troy Polamalu's career. At the end of the day, I believe Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler are most interested right now in finding what Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas do best. In the right now, you start with those two guys as the safeties, and I believe the Steelers plan to have some faith in both of them. One year from now, we'll see.

TAD DECK FROM LEBANON, PA:
Do you think you'll ever go back to the longer version of "Agree to Disagree" when you had two statements and then a commercial and then another two statements? I enjoy that as I do most things on Steelers.com.

Would you believe there is some obscure FCC regulation barring people as ugly as me and Prisuta from appearing in videos longer than three minutes? Actually, the three-minute time limit is mandated by the NFL as part of its NFL Now program for videos of this type appearing on team websites. I guess it has to do with a decline in attention spans.

JOE TURA FROM APOLLO, PA:
You are right, Bob, I just checked emilypost.com, and it doesn't appear to have anything to do with football at all. All about some Etiquette dude. Maybe a Canadian hockey player? Anyway, my question is: out of the players currently on the team, who is the most dominant player on defense?

My pick would be Cam Heyward. And he's still an up-and-comer, too.

CHRIS HAGER FROM MARKLEYSBURG PA:
With this draft class supposedly deeper when it comes to pass rushers than some of the more recent drafts, could you see the Steelers taking a cornerback with their No. 1 and No. 2 picks and then grabbing a pass rusher in the third round? I know it all depends on how the draft shakes out and how the Steelers have their draft board set up. Thoughts?

You are 100 percent correct. It will all depend upon how the Steelers have their draft board set up and then on how the actual picking unfolds. There is no way to predict this. Truthfully. And the people who are doing the predicting even this close to the actual draft are guessing. Maybe they guess right, maybe they guess wrong. But it's still nothing but a guess.

PAUL REICKART FROM MIFFLINTOWN PA:
Please share your idea of top four cornerbacks and if they could all be gone by No. 22 overall pick in the draft come April 30.

Full disclosure: I have no idea who the top four cornerbacks in this draft are. I don't fashion myself as a scout. I don't get to watch a lot of college football because of our travel schedule. And the only thing that you can learn by reading what other people think is learning what those other people think. I did do a little bit of research for your question, though, and what I found was that in no draft in the 2000s have there been four cornerbacks picked before the 22nd overall selection of the first round. So based on that, the Steelers should have a shot at one of the top four cornerbacks, whoever they might be.

GRANT MAESHIRO FROM HONOLULU, HI:
Heh, heh. Vic Ketchman would be proud of your sarcasm. Have the unique visits to Steelers.com increased since you began Asked and Answered?

Sorry, but that's classified information. And to steal from the legendary Chuck Noll, "Vic who?"

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