Let's get to it:
ANTHONY BROWN FROM DAYTON, OH:
What is the contract status of Mike Hilton? Will the Steelers sign him to a long-term contract or sign him to a one-year contract to see what he can contribute?
ANSWER: Mike Hilton signed a futures contract with the Steelers in January 2017. In March 2018, Hilton will become an exclusive rights free agent, which means he has no negotiating power under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Provided the Steelers tender him an offer, which needs to be for no more than the NFL minimum, Hilton's only option is to accept the offer or not play in the NFL. In March 2019, Hilton would be eligible to be a restricted free agent, and it wouldn't be until March 2020 when he could hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. My guess is that the Steelers would wait until the end of the 2018 season before deciding whether to sign Hilton to a long-term contract.
DAVID PETERSON FROM ALAMOGORDO, NM:
I notice lately that officials have been standing over the ball before the start of plays and yet the play clock is running. Is this an attempt to slow a team's momentum? This seems like it is happening too much the past few years.
ANSWER: There is a rule that if the offense substitutes players, the opposing defense must be given a reasonable chance to substitute players in response. The official standing over the ball is making sure that can happen.
J.J BURFORD FROM LAWTON, OK:
If a team goes 7-9 in the regular season, and somehow ends up winning the Super Bowl, is that team still awarded pick No. 32 in the following draft?
ROBERT RICHARDSON FROM MODESTO, CA:
What do the players get paid for playing in playoff games?
ANSWER: In the Wild Card Round games, players on the division winning teams get $27,000 apiece, while the players on the wild card teams receive $24,000 apiece. In the Divisional Round games, players receive $27,000 apiece. In the Conference Championship, players receive $49,000 apiece. In the Super Bowl, players on the winning team receive $107,000 apiece, while players on the losing team receive $53,000 apiece.
Jerome Bettis and The Bus Stops Here Foundation presented kids with Christmas gifts at the Children's Home of Pittsburgh & the Lemieux Family Center.
NICK SISI FROM ONTARIO, CANADA:
Would you rest Chris Hubbard or Marcus Gilbert in the upcoming game against the Browns? Hubbard played well in the absence of Gilbert, but due to all the time Gilbert has missed would he be better served playing and trying to get back up to game speed before our bye.
ANSWER: Marcus Gilbert played against the Texans, so he's up to game speed, but I don't know that you can rest either of those guys. Typically, there are only seven offensive linemen who are active on game day, and you need to play five at a time. If that's the case again on Sunday, the guys I'm eventually pulling from the game are Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro.
KEITH OVERSTREET FROM SHORT PUMP, VA:
Correct me if I'm an old man, but regarding the question in Asked and Answered Live that began with the premise that James Harrison is the greatest outside linebacker in Steelers history, didn't Jack Ham have 32 interceptions and 20-some fumble recoveries? I appreciate all Harrison did, but he ain't no Ham.
ANSWER: It was 21 fumble recoveries to be precise, and there is no legitimate argument to be made about anyone besides Jack Ham being the best outside linebacker in Steelers history. As I wrote in that edition of Asked and Answered Live: Not. Even. Close.
RYAN YEDLINSKY FROM LANSING, KS:
You have previously discussed how fake punts are rehearsed but usually not preplanned, relying on a real-time decision made based on the situation. Is the same true for a decision to attempt to block a punt?
ANSWER: In the specific instance of Tyler Matakevich blocking the punt in Cleveland against the Browns in the 2017 regular season opener, yes.
RYAN WELLS FROM MAGNA, UT:
Any chance the Steelers can get Hall of Fame speech videos on the website? I'm particularly looking for the video of Jack Lambert's speech and can't find it anywhere.
ANSWER: Can't find it anywhere? I wonder if you even tried. All of those acceptance speeches already are on Steelers.com. On the top nav bar, move your cursor over Team. You'll get a drop-down box, and under the "History" heading is a category labeled "Hall of Fame." Click on that, and you'll be directed to a page listing all of the Steelers Hall of Famers. Click on Jack Lambert's name, and the video is right there.
PATRICK WEYERS FROM COLUMBUS, OH:
Has any thought been given to signing former draft pick Travis Feeney as a developmental prospect for inside linebacker? His size and speed would be great there. He played all linebacker spots in college. Am I off base in thinking this?
ANSWER: Travis Feeney, who played his college football at Washington, was a sixth-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2016. He was waived by the Steelers, picked up by New Orleans and also waived by the Saints. My information is that he's too soft (not physical enough) for professional football, which is why he is out of the league.
STUART SAVITSKY FROM NEW YORK, NY:
When does the NFL release the schedule for the divisional round? Is it at the end of Week 17 of the regular season because the home teams for that round are already known, or do they wait until after Wild Card weekend?
ANSWER: My recollection is that when the NFL announces the schedule for Wild Card weekend it also announces the dates and times of the Divisional Round games.