Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 30

Let's get to it:

NATHAN LANCE FROM INMAN, SC: I just read about the Steelers trading a draft pick to the Raiders for WR/KR Ryan Switzer. I also just read an article that stated the Raiders did not know if they had a reliable backup quarterback on their roster. Would it have been possible for the Steelers to have made an even trade for Switzer in exchange for the Steelers' fourth quarterback, or is a draft pick more valuable? I was just wondering if this could have happened?

ANSWER: It certainly would have been legal for the Steelers to send their fourth quarterback to the Raiders for Ryan Switzer, but that would have been a higher price than the one they actually paid to acquire him. While it's true that the Steelers sent a 2019 fifth-round draft pick to the Raiders in the trade, what they received in return was a player (Switzer) and Oakland's sixth-round pick from the same 2019 draft. As Michael David Smith explained on, "In other words, all it took the Steelers to get Switzer was moving down in the draft. Given that the Steelers are expected to be better than the Raiders this year, Pittsburgh probably didn't even move down a full round. It could turn out that the Steelers will move down only a handful of picks." So, doing it your way, while legal, would've been overpaying.

DANNY WARD FROM DURHAM, UNITED KINGDOM: Can you explain why we've entered into this deal with the Raiders? We have good punt returners, we're brimming with wide receiver talent. What's the win for Pittsburgh?

ANSWER: Incorrect. Since the Steelers don't want to have Antonio Brown returning punts, the team is, in fact, without a talented/reliable returner. Cam Sutton was thought to be a possibility, but then he fumbled one in the game against the Titans. Quadree Henderson hasn't done much with the opportunities he had. And who would you have returning kickoffs? Returning kicks – both punts and kickoffs – will be Ryan Switzer's primary job, and then down the road maybe he can compete as a slot receiver, because in 2016 at North Carolina he caught 96 passes from Mitchell Trubisky, now the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears. And what the Steelers had to give up to acquire Switzer (see above answer) was next to nothing.

ANDY MOTTO FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Great to see extensions for Chris Boswell and Vince Williams, but Ramon Foster is entering the final year of his contract. Any thoughts on extending Ramon?

ANSWER: I cannot speak directly to the contract situation regarding Ramon Foster, but here are some things to consider. Because of his age – Foster will be 33 next January – there might be more of a tendency to adopt a wait-and-see approach to re-signing him based on that, and it's also true that once players reach their 30s, they become less attractive to other teams and less likely to attract a big offer to leave.

CARL LEFTWICH FROM LEXINGTON, KY: With all the talk about guaranteed money vs. the maximum amount of deals, can you explain the difference? Why is guaranteed money such a big issue?

ANSWER: Guaranteed money is a big issue with regard to NFL player contracts, because the annual salaries in those contracts are not guaranteed unless specified. So, as an example, say a player signed a 10-year, $100 million contract, with no guaranteed money, that was to pay him $10 million per year. If he played three years and was cut, he would have made $30 million, with the other $70 million nullified. If the player signed a 10-year, $100 million contract, with $50 million guaranteed, he would earn no less than $50 million. The maximum value of both contracts was $100 million, but because of the difference in guaranteed money, one guy earned $30 million and the other guy earned $50 million.

KEVIN BERDOU FROM HOUSTON, TX: What does being a game day inactive mean for the players designated as such, even though they are on the 53-man roster?

ANSWER: It simply means they are not in uniform, and therefore cannot play, in the game. They still get paid, if that's what you're asking.

PATTIE FISH FROM HANOVER, PA: A real rookie question: Who determines the length of a timeout? Seems like I hear, "30-second timeout" often. Why?

ANSWER: The length of a timeout is determined by the network broadcasting the game, and it's based on getting all of the commercials aired during the broadcast.

ZARED HOLLABAUGH FROM SARVER, PA: With the Jaguars pretty thin at wide receiver and with some tough cuts ahead for the Steelers at that position, do you think the Steelers could send someone like Justin Hunter to the Jaguars for a conditional late-round pick?

ANSWER: I will speak only for myself: There is no way I would be helping a team I figure will be a competitor for the AFC Championship fill a hole on its roster for a conditional late-round draft pick.

JONATHAN KINCAID FROM NEW FLORENCE, PA: What is a realistic expectation for Matthew Thomas? Does he, in your opinion, really have the potential to be more than a training camp bubble player for the next three years? I brush aside most of what I've read about his physical skills being comparable to Ryan Shazier's and other articles that seem to be excitement about football in shorts.

ANSWER: I won't even attempt to project what Matthew Thomas might be as a professional football player three years from now, but I am comfortable telling you this: With another solid performance tonight in the preseason finale against Carolina, he has a good chance to make this 53-man roster; and if he can make himself indispensable on special teams, he has a good chance to get a helmet on game days this season. Productive careers can be built that way.


1. When will the flashbacks of Slash stop? Joshua Dobbs is a quarterback trying to make a roster. He is not Slash and never will be utilized like that as long as he is with the Steelers.

2. Landry Jones is our No. 2 quarterback. Get over it, people. Jones is our best backup for the 2018 season.

3. Matthew Thomas, Keion Adams and Ola Adeniyi, while impressive this preseason, it is just preseason. T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Jon Bostic, and Vince Williams will be the starting linebackers, barring injury.

4. Enough with suggesting position changes. Dupree is an outside linebacker, and now he has the opportunity to rush the passer more often while allowing Watt to do what he does best, which is get after the football.

5. Lastly, Le'Veon Bell will be the starting running back as long as he is with the Steelers. James Conner showed a lot of progress this offseason, training camp, and the preseason, but Bell is still our best bet to help bring home a seventh Lombardi Trophy in 2018. Conner will contribute, no doubt, but "ring the Bell."

ANSWER: I rarely publish rants, but yours was pretty good, but you left out one recurring issue (see below).

KELVIN COOPER FROM NEW ORLEANS, LA: What is the chance that the Steelers kick the tires on a Lawrence Timmons return to Pittsburgh?

ANSWER: Two of those tires are flat, and the other two have no tread left on them.