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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 27

Let's get to it:

Now that the Steelers have exercised the fifth-year option on Ryan Shazier's contract, what are the terms of this option?

ANSWER: The fifth-year options are determined in a way that's somewhat similar to the way franchise tag figures are determined. In this case, first-round picks are divided into two separate categories – those guys who are drafted in the top 10 overall, and then everyone else. Then within those two categories, salaries for the fifth-year option are determined by which position the individual plays, and like the franchise tag, quarterbacks are at the top of the scale. According to published reports, Shazier's fifth-year option will pay him in the neighborhood of $8.7 million for the 2018 season. After that, the Steelers could tag him, or negotiate a contract extension, or Shazier could become an unrestricted free agent some time in March 2019.

Can you explain what a conditional reinstatement is? The way I understood it, it sounded like Martavis Bryant can participate in all the offseason activities but has to be fully reinstated come week 1?

ANSWER: It's a fairly self-explanatory process, but here are some of the pertinent parts of the NFL's statement: "The NFL notified Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers that he has been reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis. Bryant may join the Steelers at the training facility and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities. Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Bryant's clinical resources in Pittsburgh, he will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games. Prior to the start of the regular season, the NFL will review Bryant's progress. Based on his compliance and engagement with his program and resources, he will be permitted to participate in all regular season activities beginning in Week 1. He will be evaluated later in the season for full reinstatement."

In summary, Bryant is eligible to come to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and participate in Phase 1 of the offseason program along with the rest of his teammates, and he was able to do that immediately after the NFL issued its statement. He can continue doing so as arrangements are made/confirmed to ensure he is continuing to adhere to the rules of the NFL's drug policy and any treatment/counseling that may be a part of his road back to a career in the NFL. He will be evaluated periodically along the way, and as long as he's continuing to follow the rules he will be cleared to play regular season games. It's a process. It's not a situation where he's out of the league, and then a switch is flipped and he's back in the league with all the rights and privileges accorded to someone who never had run afoul of the league's drug policy. That's not the way it works once an individual has gotten to the one-year level of punishment.

When the draft is all said and done and the Steelers have signed any undrafted rookies they want, do they ever release the before picture of their draft board?

ANSWER: They do not. Never have, and I have to believe they never will.

A few years ago my family had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rooney at a book signing. He came in through the Target store just like any other person entering the mall. No big fuss or ordeal with security all around. When it was our turn to have the book signed, he talked to my daughters who were 5 and 6 years old. I was wearing a gold Steelers hoodie, and he complimented my hoodie. The man who could have any Steelers item past or present liked my hoodie. It was one of the best experiences. He is the role model I want for my girls.

Do Steelers fans really think that the Steelers should never miss on a pick? They have been very good in the past. In ALL rounds. Hence their success as a team. I think this year will be a great year.

ANSWER: I have always believed that the No. 1 reality of the NFL Draft is this: the process is set up to make it more difficult for the successful franchises to sustain their success, because it's more difficult to find dynamic talents when you're picking later in each of the seven rounds. The other truth is that the longer anyone is involved in the picking of college players with the idea of projecting them into the NFL, the more likely they will be to make mistakes. It is not an exact science.

Over the previous five drafts, the Steelers have made 42 selections, with 10 of those players becoming starters for them, 13 others have become backups for them, and six other players currently are on other NFL rosters. By comparison, the Baltimore Ravens are a team consistently recognized for their successes utilizing the draft, and over the same period the Ravens made 47 picks, with nine of them becoming starters for them, 24 others are backups for them, and nine currently are on other NFL rosters.

Will the new contract that Adrian Peterson signed impact the amount Le'Veon Bell will make under the franchise tag? He was going to make so much more with Vikings, and the way I understand it, under the franchise tag you make the average of the top five players at your position.

ANSWER: It will not, because the computation for the 2017 franchise tenders is not based on salary figures for the same season in which the tag has been applied.

Do you envision a scenario in which the Steelers trade up or back in the first round of the draft?

ANSWER: I do not anticipate a trade up in the first round because of the cost, and the scenario in which I could foresee a trade back would be one where there is a quarterback or two still available late in the first round and a team or teams is trying to scramble into position to pick him.

Do you know if the Steelers will wear a patch or helmet decal to honor Mr. Rooney?

ANSWER: They will wear a commemorative patch. I don't know where the patch will be placed, nor do I know what it will look like. Those details figure to be revealed later on in the process.

When people ask about signing Brock Osweiler or Johnny Manziel as Ben Roethlisberger's heir-apparent, is it more appropriate to laugh or cry?

ANSWER: That would be your choice. Mine is to be thankful those people are not making player personnel decisions for the Steelers.

It is an absolute lift of my spirits to read the answers to some of the craziest questions posted here.

ANSWER: As you will see, not everyone is so uplifted.

Let me start by saying I have enjoyed your Asked and Answered segments until now. I think maybe it's filling your head a bit too much. Slamming Jon Gruden was bad enough (he deserves your respect), but for you to imply that Nathan Peterman is nothing more than a career backup was going a bit too far. You have no idea if Peterman is the next Tom Brady or Tim Couch. You have lost my respect, and I will no longer read your segments. I know you won't publish this, and I don't care.

ANSWER: Since you no longer read Asked and Answered, you're missing out on your turn in the spotlight. Anyway, I do respect Jon Gruden for what he is today: an ESPN analyst who is paid, and paid quite handsomely, to entertain and analyze NFL football. He also is a coach who was reported to have bailed on the Raiders and then ultimately was fired by the Buccaneers, whose one Super Bowl win came because of the play of one of the most dynamic defenses during the 2000s. If you care to believe he is some mystical quarterback guru, that's OK, but history shows that when he was an NFL coach his record of identifying talent at the position was a less-than-stellar one.

And here's one example: After a 2004 season in which his quarterbacks were Brian Griese, Brad Johnson, and Chris Simms, Gruden passed on a chance to draft Aaron Rodgers. If he practiced then as a coach what he preaches now as an entertainer, maybe he'd still be a coach.

As for Nathan Peterman, there is nothing wrong with being an NFL backup quarterback, and if he's able to make a career out of it he'll earn millions of dollars and set himself and his family up for a very nice life. But I also believe I could hear the strains of "Hail to Pitt" playing in the background as I read your submission.

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