Let’s get to it:
MIKE CLAPPER FROM BEDFORD, PA: Over the weekend I was listening to SNR and you asked Steelers President Art Rooney II about trading away a pick in next year’s draft as part of the package to move up to select Devin Bush. He made a reference about Buddy Parker. Who is he, and why was everyone laughing at that reference?
ANSWER: Buddy Parker was the Steelers head coach from 1957-64, and he compiled a 51-47-6 record during those seasons. Very successful given the early history of the Steelers franchise, Parker came to Pittsburgh from the Detroit Lions, where he won NFL Championships in 1952 and 1953. A good coach, a successful coach, but Parker had an aversion to rookies. He hated rookies, in fact he hated rookies to the degree that he would trade draft picks in bunches for veteran players, even for washed-up veteran players.
Here is a sample of Parker’s record of trading draft picks during his tenure with the Steelers: in 1958, he traded away the team’s picks in the first round, the fourth round, the fifth round, the seventh round, the eighth round, and the ninth round. In 1959, Parker traded away the Steelers’ picks in Rounds 1-through-7; in 1960, he trade away the picks in Rounds 2-through-6; in 1961, he traded away the No. 1 pick, and also the picks in Rounds 3-through-6; in 1962, he traded away the picks in Rounds 2-through-6; and in 1963, he traded away the picks in Rounds 1-through-7. And even though Parker was fired in 1964, he already had traded the Steelers first-round pick in the 1965 NFL Draft.
The reference Steelers President Art Rooney II made had to do with an assurance the team wasn’t going to return to the days of Buddy Parker when it was routine to trade away future draft picks in bunches.
VAIL JACKSON FROM VALENCIA, PA: Have the dates of the Steelers 2019 training camp been decided yet? Thanks for doing this Steeler feature. Your sense of humor and the way you "navigate" some of the more "innovative" questions has given me hours of great entertainment.
ANSWER: The training camp schedule will be announced in early July on Steelers.com, and thanks for the kind words.
KEITH MILLER FROM WAYNESVILLE, NC: Are any of the Steelers' draft picks represented by Drew Rosenhaus?
ANSWER: Devin Bush.
DENNY DURCHOLZ FROM FRANKFORT, KY: In the draft day trade with Denver that included the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, could the pick be the third-round compensatory pick we expect to get for losing Le’Veon Bell, or will it be the one that the Steelers get based on how they finish in 2019?
ANSWER: The NFL would not approve a trade where part of the compensation included a draft pick a team “expected to get,” because what if that team didn’t in fact get that pick? The No. 3 pick in 2020 the Broncos will have as part of this trade will be the one the Steelers earn based on their 2019 record.
MICAH RIDENOUR FROM ELKINS, WV: Why the quick release of Jon Bostic? I know that we drafted Devin Bush, but Bostic seemed like he did well for us and that he was better than Tyler Matakevich.
ANSWER: Tyler Matakevich is a core special teams player and has significant value based on his contributions in that phase of the game. After signing Mark Barron as an unrestricted free agent and drafting Devin Bush in the first round, the Steelers apparently saw Jon Bostic’s contract as an unnecessary expense.
TYLER WENRICH FROM DENVER, PA: Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer are both slot receivers. Assuming they both make the 53-man roster, how will the Steelers utilize two slot receivers?
ANSWER: I believe your assumption that both Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer will make the 53-man roster is inaccurate. My prediction at this very early stage of the process is that rookie Diontae Johnson will make the roster and will handle both punt and kickoff returns, and that Rogers and Switzer will be fighting for one roster spot.
SCOTT SOOS FROM EASTLAKE, OH: I haven't heard whether Mike Hilton has signed a contract to play for the Steelers this year. I know he signed a one-year deal last year, and he shows up on the roster posted on Steelers.com, but what is his status at this time?
ANSWER: Mike Hilton entered this offseason as an exclusive rights free agent, and he signed his one-year tender on March 7.
ANDREW SCHERBIK FROM DELRAN, NJ: Now that the draft is over and I'm done laughing at the so-called draft experts for putting out grades on each player without any of them having played a down in the NFL, I'm wondering, who is the lowest player drafted who made the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: Without doing a whole lot of research, I can tell you that Kurt Warner, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017 was undrafted.
JOHN TESEROVITCH FROM DAYTON, OH: While looking over the past draft picks archive on Steelers.com, I noticed that third-round picks in both 2001 and 1979 were “forfeited.” How did that happen?
ANSWER: The Steelers lost that third-round pick in 1979 as punishment from the NFL when they were found to have had players wearing shoulder pads during minicamp in 1978. During the 1998 season, as part of a verbal agreement Dan Rooney had with Will Wolford, the Steelers paid a bonus to Wolford that was ruled to be a salary cap infraction. The punishment was the forfeiture of that 2001 third-round draft pick. The NFL informed Dan Rooney that if he paid Wolford the bonus, the Steelers would be punished with the loss of a draft pick, but Rooney told the NFL that he had given the player his word and that his word was more important to him than a draft pick.
BILLY FENIMORE FROM TROY, OH: I have read in multiple places that Joe Greene is the last surviving member of The Steel Curtain. Was Jack Lambert not part of the legendary Steel Curtain? I believe he is still very much alive and in my opinion, Jack Lambert was every bit as vital to the success of the Steelers as Joe Greene.
ANSWER: The origin of the nickname, The Steel Curtain, referred only to the defensive front four, just as was the case with the Los Angeles Rams’ Fearsome Foursome, and the Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters. The Steel Curtain was made up of Dwight While, Ernie Holmes, Joe Greene, and L.C. Greenwood. Those were the four players who graced the cover of Time Magazine, and that nickname referred specifically to that unit and those four players. Over time, The Steel Curtain came to be associated with the entire defensive unit, possibly as a counter to Dallas’ Doomsday Defense, but its initial reference was to the four-man defensive line. And with all due respect to Jack Lambert, a Hall of Fame player in his own right, your opinion of his significance vs. Joe Greene’s to the Steelers of the 1970s is incorrect.
SETH FIRESTONE FROM ASHBURN, VA: Is it going to be a training camp battle between Matt Feiler and Chuks Okorafor for the starting job at right tackle?
ANSWER: Yes, there will be a competition for the starting job at right tackle.
BOB MCCREARY FROM SPRINGFIELD, OR: Can the NFL and individual teams survive the seemingly unending desire of position players demanding every year to be the highest paid player at each position? It just seems to be unsustainable.
ANSWER: The NFL has a hard salary cap, which controls what a team can spend on personnel, and so it becomes a financial management issue. That’s what usually separates the good teams from the mediocre ones – the ability to manage the salary cap so as to build a complete team capable of contending for a championship, instead of a fantasy football team.
MICHAEL WOLOZYN FROM OIL CITY, PA: OK, the draft is over, and free agency seems to have calmed down for a while. Could you please lay out the various roster sizes, the number of players a team is authorized to have on each, and the point at which the team is required to make cuts to reduce the list to meet those numbers?
ANSWER: As soon as the new league year began back in March, teams were permitted to carry 90 players on their rosters. That will continue until Aug. 31, when all teams will have to cut to 53 players. Then the regular season starts. There is only one cut-down date.
TA ERLENBUSCH FROM COLORADO SPRINGS, CO: Would it be futile to attempt to get some money back from Antonio Brown’s contract? I find it hard to believe he could become the highest paid wide receiver one year, then create distractions the whole next year to get himself traded and into a new contract, especially walking out on the team at the end of last year.
ANSWER: Antonio Brown is gone. Let it go. There is nothing to be done.