Skip to main content

Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 9

Let's get to it:

JACK LEWIS FROM BRIDGEVILLE, PA: Would you please explain if outside of OTAs and mandatory minicamp, can players get together of their own volition to work out and share team info, such as formations, etc.? Can this occur in Steeler facilities if no coaches are present?
ANSWER: Pat Freiermuth has said that recently he got together in San Diego with Calvin Austin III and Van Jefferson to run routes and begin to work on chemistry with recently acquired quarterback Russell Wilson. So that's an example of players getting together informally for some offseason work. And while it's not "against the law" for that to happen at a team's facility, it's more likely to happen somewhere such as San Diego, which is a more attractive option than Pittsburgh in late March/early April.

And since you mention OTAs, here is the team's 2024 schedule for OTAs and mandatory minicamp;

The following is the full OTAs schedule:
Tuesday, May 21 – OTA No. 1
Wednesday, May 22 – OTA No. 2
Thursday, May 23 – OTA No. 3

Tuesday, May 28 – OTA No. 4
Wednesday, May 29 – OTA No. 5
Thursday, May 30 – OTA No. 6

Monday, June 3 – OTA No. 7
Tuesday, June 4 – OTA No. 8
Wednesday, June 5 – OTA No. 9
Thursday, June 6 – OTA No. 10

Steelers Mandatory Minicamp
Tuesday, June 11– Day 1
Wednesday, June 12 – Day 2
Thursday, June 13 – Day 3

ED SOLTIS FROM FOLLANSBEE, WV: Does JuJu Smith-Schuster get a consideration at some point?
ANSWER: First of all, JuJu Smith-Schuster is under contract to the New England Patriots through the 2025 NFL season, and so it's not a simple matter of coming to a contract agreement and then simply signing him. Also, the Steelers' need at wide receiver is for the kind of player who can replace what they lost when Diontae Johnson was traded, and I don't see Smith-Schuster as that kind of a player at this stage of his career.

JACK BUBER FROM ATLANTA, GA: Why are the Steelers unwilling to try Nick Herbig at inside linebacker? He's 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, compared to Patrick Queen, who is 6-0, 232, and Herbig is almost as fast.
ANSWER: Your description of the respective height-weight-speed numbers for Nick Herbig and Patrick Queen may be correct, but there is a whole lot more to playing inside linebacker vs. outside linebacker in the Steelers defensive scheme than height/weight/speed. Nick Herbig is the team's No. 3 outside linebacker, which is a valuable role within the team, and if you were watching last season he is pretty good at it.

JOHN MILLER FROM FT. MYERS, FL: Absolutely loved the signing of Cordarrelle Patterson. Do you believe the new kickoff rules will affect the overall roster construction? Might teams keep an extra linebacker or safety instead of a different position such as a sixth wide receiver or a fourth running back?
ANSWER: With only 53 players on the in-season active roster, and with not all of those 53 in uniform on game days, the sixth wide receiver and the fourth running back already are spots that must be occupied by guys who are willing and capable of making significant contributions on special teams. That has been the case long before the NFL implemented rules changes to the kickoffs.

BARON JOHNSON FROM MARYVILLE, TN: Freddy Berry, a local player from Washington, Pa., played for Boston College and was employed by the Steelers in the early 1970s. He played in the secondary. Can you provide any stats on him? I only know he was on the team by his admitting to me that he had been.
ANSWER: The player to whom you are referring is Fred Barry, and he is listed as a 5-foot-10, 184-pound defensive back who played his college football at Boston University and entered the NFL as an eighth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970. Barry never played for the Chiefs, but he did appear in 9 regular season games for the Steelers during the 1970 regular season and wore jersey No. 29. Since tackles were not a statistic that was compiled by the NFL during that era, the only stats associated with Barry were 2 fumble recoveries. According to Wikipedia, Fred Barry died on Aug. 16, 2016, at the age of 68.

ROY PERRIN FROM RALEIGH, NC: For preseason games, what is the compensation to players in those games and does the Hall of Fame Game pay more?
ANSWER: According to the rules of the Collective bargaining Agreement, players on NFL rosters during the preseason game are paid a stipend per game based on their years of service in the league. All preseason games are created equal when it comes to that stipend.

PAT FLYNN FROM OAKDALE, PA: In 2023, Brad Wing played in 2 games for the Steelers. I thought he did OK statistically. Any chance he gets signed for the 2024 Steelers?
ANSWER: Earlier this offseason, the Steelers signed veteran punter Cameron Johnston to a three-year contract worth a reported $9 million that included a $2.875 million signing bonus. Since NFL teams don't keep more than one punter, I doubt Brad Wing has a future with the 2024 Steelers.

CHUCK PURNELL FROM WILMINGTON, DE: Last year at Friday Night Lights while waiting in line to get into Latrobe Stadium, I remember seeing an entrance for VIP ticket holders. How does one obtain VIP tickets for the Friday Night Lights practice?
ANSWER: Everything related to tickets, including prices and availability, is handled by Latrobe High School. The Steelers have no involvement in any of that, nor do they share in any of the revenue collected.

MARK RICE FROM LAS VEGAS, NV: With 30 allotted pre-draft visits, are all the player visits held because that player is being considered as a potential draft pick?
ANSWER: The Steelers use those visits as part of the information gathering process leading up to the three days of the draft. Sometimes a player may be brought in because of a medical issue, sometimes it might be because the team wasn't able to have a one-on-one meeting with him at the Combine or during his Pro Day. Often, such a visit can be a final look at an individual the team is considering during the draft, but obviously not each of the 30 visitors can be selected.

DOUGLAS PIPER FROM STATE COLLEGE, PA: Do you have any idea why Justin Fields said he is "excited about working alongside Russell (Wilson) and maybe learning some of those veteran tricks of the trade and things that he's picked up from being in this league for over a decade," and why Kenny Pickett – the same age as Fields – instead preferred to be traded?
ANSWER: It seems to me that the obvious difference is that Justin Fields wanted to come to the Steelers to compete and learn and continue to develop at his position, while Kenny Pickett did not. From that set of facts, I'll allow you to draw your own conclusion, because I have no inside information.

DAVID BEITER FROM NEW CASTLE, PA: With Steelers signing another tight end (MyCole Pruitt) what are your thoughts on whether they may move Darnell Washington to offensive tackle? I heard that being discussed on a radio station.
ANSWER: As I explained in a previous answer: Nick Herbig is not an inside linebacker. And to apply that same reasoning to this question: Darnell Washington is not an offensive tackle. Stop listening to that radio station.

MARK SIMON FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Would you consider drafting Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis if he lasted until the third round of the draft? Before he was injured, I believe he would have been drafted in the first round.
ANSWER: If it were up to me, I would not be drafting any quarterback before very late on Day 3, if at all, because the top of the depth chart is going to contain Russell Wilson, Justin Fields, and Kyle Allen, all of whom have NFL regular season starting experience. There are other areas that need to be addressed during the upcoming NFL Draft.

RICHARD SHARRATT FROM MARSKE BY THE SEA, ENGLAND: Do the players in the draft have any say in their preference for clubs? For example, someone from Pitt wanting to go to the Steelers?

SCOTT RANDALL FROM CONWAY, SC: Does anyone know what happened to Heath Miller? He was in my eyes a perfect professional in all ways and a great team player. Do you think Pat Freiermuth has those same qualities to do the same job?
ANSWER: Heath Miller is enjoying retirement with his wife, Katie, and their four children, sons Chase, Jake, and Cole, and daughter Morgan. For me, there will only ever be one Heath Miller, who was in my mind the best combination of blocker and receiver among all NFL tight ends during his era. No disrespect to Pat Freiermuth, but Miller is one-of-a-kind.