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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 4

Let's get to it:

GIO CALABRO FROM EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NJ: A lot of talk about the Steelers' need to add a defensive lineman within the first three picks in this year's draft. In your opinion, have DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk shown enough progress for the team to feel they provide strong defensive line depth?
ANSWER: You don't use a premium draft pick on a defensive lineman if all you want to do is add depth, and the Steelers need an infusion of top of the depth chart talent at that position even when/if DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk become "regulars." Cam Heyward is on the doorstep of his 34th birthday; Tyson Alualu will be 36 years old soon and is an unrestricted free agent; and Chris Wormley is an unrestricted free agent and had ACL surgery in December. Besides Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi, who will be 29 in early June, the Steelers don't have any of what I would refer to as pedigreed defensive linemen on their current roster. It's time to address that area of their defense, the only fiscally responsible way to address that area is via the draft, and the time of the draft when it's shrewd to be shopping for potential top of the depth chart defensive linemen is during the first three rounds.

TODD MULLEN FROM DES MOINES, IA: We plan on visiting Pittsburgh for the first time ever this year to take in a preseason game. When is the best time to go to the Hall of Honor Museum?
ANSWER: The dates, or at the very least, the weekends for the preseason home schedule will be announced when the NFL allows the Steelers to release their 2023 regular season schedule – last year that was May 12, just as a reference point for you. To schedule a tour of the Hall of Honor Museum, simply go to, and on the top NavBar on the homepage, you will see a link for "Hall of Honor Museum." Click on that link, and it'll take you to a page that will walk you through the process of booking your tour of the Museum.

JUSTIN HAYES FROM LATROBE, PA: Before going into the draft, General Manager Omar Khan has addressed a lot of needs with the pickups of some offensive linemen, Patrick Peterson, and the most recent signing of Keanu Neal. Do you believe that they are doing these things to perhaps make a run at another skill position player, or will they go the more predictable route and select an offensive tackle or a defensive back with that first-round pick?
ANSWER: It is my opinion that the moves the Steelers made to this point in free agency are the exact opposite of a plan to target a specific position with the No. 1 pick. Those moves allow the Steelers to go into the first round – and the entire three-day draft – with a completely open mind, because there are no glaring holes in any projected list of the 26 starter candidates (11 on defense; 11 plus a slot cornerback on defense; and 3 specialists on special teams) for the 2023 season. They will be able to pick their board, which I believe has been the ultimate goal of every Steelers free agency strategy since the system was put into place in 1993.

DEREK LAKE FROM WEBSTER, FL : What do you think of the Keanu Neal signing? I know him personally, and while that makes me a little biased, I think he's a good, hard-hitting defender. The Steelers are high on character, and I think they got it right with this signing.
ANSWER: As mentioned in the previous answer, my assessment of the Steelers' free agency moves is that they have shored up some areas/issues, which will allow them to pick their board once the draft rolls around. And certainly, the signing of Keanu Neal falls into that category. Neal's on-the-field ability, the team's plan for that, and how he meshes with the rest of the group will be revealed once on-field drills begin on Tuesday, May 23 with the first of 10 OTAs. I believe the Steelers are hoping to have gotten the player/teammate you described.

RODGER SHAFFER FROM PLUM, PA: Is it possible for Lamar Jackson to count against Ravens salary cap and not play?
ANSWER: What you are describing is exactly what the Steelers experienced with Le'Veon Bell in 2018. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell, who then did not sign the tender nor did he ever report to the team through training camp, the preseason, and a 9-6-1 regular season. The amount of Bell's franchise tender counted on the salary cap throughout, but once the calendar rolled into the regular season, the NFL started adding the amount of one game check to the Steelers salary cap for each week Bell didn't report.

GLENN GUICHARD FROM CHICAGO, IL: I heard that Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates was also drafted by the Steelers and the Boston Celtics?
ANSWER: Dave Parker's lone brush with football came while he attended Couter Tech High School near Cincinnati. He sustained some kind of knee injury and gave up football to concentrate on baseball. He made the right choice.

MIKE FOLEY FROM SADDLE BROOK, IL: Can you picture a scenario where an offer is made to trade Mitch Trubisky, especially since Coach Mike Tomlin says he wants "volunteers not hostages," and the Steelers re-signing Mason Rudolph?
ANSWER: That whole "Mitch Trubisky was mis-treated and wants to be traded/released" narrative was hokum from the start. Any reports to that effect were inaccurate and any explanation to rationalize them now is just an attempt to avoid saying, "I was wrong."

JOSE LOPEZ FROM SUFFIELD, CT: With all of the good tight ends who will be in this year's draft, do you think the Steelers would take one of the best early to have a solid 1-2 punch with Pat Freiermuth? Also, with all of the free agent pickups made so far, do you think this will be an "offense heavy" draft in order to keep up with the Chiefs and other high scoring teams? It seems that they've already filled many of their defensive needs.
ANSWER: I do not agree with your assessment of the Steelers having filled "many of their defensive needs" through free agency, especially along the defensive line and at cornerback. And any attempt to keep up with high-scoring teams better include consistent representative performances by the defense. At tight end, the Steelers have come to terms with Zach Gentry to serve as a sidekick to Pat Freiermuth, and my opinion is that there will be better uses for the team's early draft picks than looking to add a tight end to play behind him.

ERIC SCHIER FROM DOWNINGTOWN, PA: Since the Chuck Noll era, the Steelers have drafted consistently well. That sort of sustained success can't be the result of a single person or team of people. Decades of success during changing times has to be institutional. And I suspect the success did not predate Noll. In your opinion, what do you attribute this to, and do you think Noll was the catalyst to bring it about?
ANSWER: I would say that Chuck Noll was the vehicle when it comes to the Steelers belief in using the draft as the primary method of building a roster in order to win championships and be in consistent competition to win more of them. I attribute that belief to Dan Rooney. He is the one who ultimately convinced his father, founder Art Rooney Sr., to eschew the twin policies of trading draft picks for veteran players other teams did not want and hiring coaches based on recommendations from "friends" around the league. That led to the hiring of Noll, who believed in the plan for reconstruction and then implemented it perfectly.

JIM CUMMINS FROM DAYTONA BEACH, FL: I totally love the free agent signings that the Steelers have made so far. They seem to be making the team deeper and much more physical. I am starting to worry about special teams though. All of these free agent signings have been veteran players who don't play special teams. Should we be concerned that the Steelers might be shorting themselves when it comes to talent on special teams?
ANSWER: The early stage of free agency is not the time to shop for veteran players whose primary contributions would come on special teams. That's usually an area addressed after the draft and after undrafted rookies are signed. You can be "concerned" if you choose, but you're probably jumping the gun.