Let's get to it:
STEVE WEESNER FROM ELKHART, IN:
Reports are Antonio Brown wants a bigger contract. In your opinion is this talk merely posturing, or do you think he will hold out? Are the Steelers in a position to extend his contract maybe one or two years and give him a big signing bonus? Since they didn't spend much in free agency this year can they structure it to take a big cap hit this season, and would this satisfy everyone?
I'm going to deal with these one at a time. Yes, this is posturing, and I'm going to believe right now that Antonio Brown is too smart to hold out from minicamp and training camp because if he just skipped minicamp and the first six days of training camp he could owe the Steelers $670,000, according to the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Steelers have a policy of not extending contracts of non-quarterbacks until there is one year left on the existing deal, and this is an ownership that has held its ground in disputes like this with Hall of Fame players. I don't believe the Steelers budge on this.
JOHN RIBARICH FROM RINGWOOD, NJ:
I was shocked to hear the reports that Antonio Brown is not participating in the current voluntary workouts and is prepared to sit out training camp because he wants a new contract. He is a vital piece to the success of the Steelers' offense, and I do not see him as being replaceable at this point. The Steelers tend not to rework contracts during the season, and I can't recall where they have reworked a contract for a player with three years left in order to provide more money to a player. How serious is this matter for both sides?
With the Pittsburgh Steelers, the better players get paid more on their contracts, but the rules pertaining to the negotiating of contracts are for everybody. In that respect, it's a fair process, and everybody knows what to expect from the process. The Steelers do not negotiate contracts with current players once the regular season starts, and they only will do extensions with players going into the final year, or into their final two years if the player is a starting quarterback. That's the way it has been since free agency began over 20 years ago.
ROB McGINLEY FROM WEST PALM BEACH, FL:
With Antonio Brown skipping voluntary workouts because he wants a new contract, how do you think that will affect his ability to mesh with other players? Are there any hints that the other guys may feel this is not being a "team" player?
Usually, professional athletes have an understanding among themselves when it pertains to the business aspects of a sport. Players are always for players making more money, and in the case of Antonio Brown, he has produced on the field in critical situations, which is a sure way to gain the respect of your peers in the locker room. I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which Antonio Brown isn't welcomed back by his teammates whenever he returns. As for right now, I betcha there are guys who don't even know he's not around yet. It really is that early in the whole process. And just to illustrate how rapidly things can turn 180-degrees, Brown sent out a tweet on Tuesday night that read, "I'll be there." On Wednesday, he tweeted, "Just enjoying my new born Ali can not wait to get back with my teammates! I am dad first and working to be best player I can be." My opinion is this whole "holdout" will turn out to be much ado about nothing.
STEVE EARHART FROM CAMARILLO, CA:
There is a lot of talk about the lack of edge rushers on this team. With Jarvis Jones underperforming the last couple of years, do you think he still has the ability to develop into the solid outside linebacker the Steelers have become accustomed to or is it time to move on from him?
Whoa, pardner. This is the start of Jarvis Jones' third season, and it seemed as though he was off to a decent start in his second season – two sacks and a forced fumble in his the first two-plus games – before he dislocated his wrist. We'll find out about Jarvis Jones this season, and I'm one of those in favor of giving him a full season to show what he can do. If he can't, then that's a conversation for this time next year.
JEFF TRODDEN FROM YORK, PA:
Was wondering what ever happened to Shaquille Richardson? Wasn't he the cornerback that Carnell Lake was so high on when he was recruiting for UCLA?
The Steelers spent a fifth-round pick on Shaquille Richardson in the 2014 NFL Draft, and at the time Carnell Lake said, "Little background on Shaq, he was a young high school player coming out of Los Angeles, and when I was at UCLA I recruited him. He was overlooked in high school. He didn't have a lot of offers. Actually, he didn't have any offers. We looked at him on tape. He was at one of the camps as a kid, and he was playing man-to-man coverage. I said, 'Wow, this kid can cover man-to-man.' I think we should bring him into camp, see if he can cover the receivers we have at camp, and if he can, we should offer him a scholarship. He came in and he was the best cover guy we had. We offered him a scholarship that day. Unfortunately, I didn't get to coach him because I left." Richardson and his cousin, current Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson, were dismissed from the team at UCLA after they were arrested on theft charges that later were dropped, and Shaquille Richardson completed his college career at Arizona before being drafted by the Steelers. My recollection of Shaquille Richardson's rookie training camp was that he spent more time watching from the sideline with some sort of knee injury than he did making an impression on the field. He was waived on Aug. 30 and signed to the practice squad one day later, possibly because he was a 6-foot, 194-pound cornerback prospect on a team that was thin at his position. On Oct. 14, Richardson was placed on the practice squad injured reserve list, and then waived a week later after reaching an injury settlement with the team. He then signed a futures contract with Kansas City in February only to be waived by the Chiefs last Tuesday, which was only one day into Phase 1 of the offseason program.
UNCLE PUMA FROM ARLINGTON, VA:
Will this A&A format carry over through the year? I am very appreciative of the perspective you provide here, and candidly I ask because I am deploying to GTMO this summer and am trying to stake out my info streams while in that IT wasteland.
My hope is that Asked and Answered will be a regular Tuesday and Thursday feature from now through minicamp, which ends on June 19, and then pick up again when training camp opens in late July, and then going every Tuesday and Thursday through the 2015 NFL season. Best of luck during your deployment.