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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 1

Let's get to it:

DICK VOCHEK FROM PORTAGE, PA: Do you think Diontae Johnson has been worth the money in his most recent contract, since the time when it was signed two offseasons ago? Do you think there will be another contract/extension in the works for him this offseason?
ANSWER: I have a very strong suspicion that this is another of those "questions" where the person submitting it already has an opinion on the issue and is not looking for anything other than validation of that opinion. Typically, I would dismiss this submission for what it is, but I'll play along here this one time. What a player is "worth" in terms of his salary only can be judged by the person signing the checks, and that's neither me nor you. I'm not going to predict a contract extension for Diontae Johnson this offseason, and I also don't believe it's realistic that the team would cut ties with him this offseason either. The Steelers are in the very early stages of a process of using this offseason to re-tool/upgrade their offense, and the first step in that will be the hiring of a new offensive coordinator. Also, it's important to understand that Steelers President Art Rooney II said on Jan 29, "We still feel good about Kenny (Pickett), where he can go. Obviously, he does need to take another step. That's an important component of the next coordinator, making sure he helps Kenny take the next step." So since the team is trying to upgrade its offense and wants to help the quarterback it selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft take the next step in his development, that makes it clear their process will include Johnson. He has shown himself to be a worthy NFL starter at the position, he's the team's top pure route-runner, and he's either the best or the second-best all-round receiver on the roster. Add all of that up, and it should make it clear to you that Diontae Johnson is "worth" keeping through the 2024 season. What might happen after that likely will depend on what happens then.

KLINT SIMMEL FROM HOLT, MI: I know that each playoff team gets money from the NFL for their players during their stay in the postseason. Do the players also get paid their weekly game checks during the postseason?
ANSWER: A player's salary, as dictated by the terms of his contract, is paid out in 18 installments during the course of the regular season. In the postseason, players are compensated by a pool of money the NFL provides based on winning or losing in each round of the playoffs. There is no double-dipping.

DIEGO ARBOLEDA FROM MORELIA, MX, MEXICO: We have a small Steelers fans group, and we were reminiscing about some past players. One in particular none of my compadres can recall and think I'm nuts – didn't the Steelers once have a barefoot punter? I also seem to recall he was punting during a snowy, ice cold game. If I'm correct, how long was that player with Steelers and was he effective?
ANSWER: In the eighth round of the 1982 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Texas punter John Goodson, who was a barefoot punter. Goodson ended up making the team as a rookie because of an injury to incumbent punter Craig Colquitt, and during the strike-shortened 1982 season (9 games) he punted 49 times for a 40.4-yard gross average, a 35.1-yard net average, with 11 punts inside the 20-yard line, and 4 touchbacks. The game played in those wintery conditions likely was the one in Buffalo on Dec. 12, 1982. The cold and wind was so impactful that Terry Bradshaw ended up completing 2-of-13 passes for 3 yards, with no touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a John Blutarsky-esque rating of 0.0. Goodson injured an ankle during the following offseason, and combined with Colquitt's return from injury that meant his NFL career lasted just the one season.

TOM WOOD FROM ALLIANCE, OH: Who are the best free agent centers available in free agency? I believe this will be the least expensive of the free agent positions of need.
ANSWER: Because teams can re-sign their own players starting now, there's no way of knowing for certain which centers will make it to the start of unrestricted free agency on March 13.

KAWPORN SUSSANGKARN FROM CHIANGRAI, THAILAND: What is your opinion of Arthur Smith as the new offensive coordinator of the Steelers?
ANSWER: While there have been reports that the Steelers have agreed to terms with Arthur Smith to be the team's new offensive coordinator, there has been no confirmation from the team as yet, which means the papers have not been signed. That said, my opinion is even if the papers get signed and there is an official announcement from the team before the end of this weekend, it's way, way, way too early to have an informed opinion on this, and I choose to stay away from joining the click-bait culture.

STEPHEN CUPRZYNSKI FROM COCKEYSVILLE, MD: Not letting any of the facts get in the way, would you consider that the injuries Kenny Pickett suffered in his first year affected his development in his second year as a starting quarterback?
ANSWER: I don't believe Kenny Pickett's problems in 2023 were a result of any injuries he sustained in 2022.

RUSS PALLONE FROM TRINIDAD, CO: I was watching the Ravens playoff game with a friend. It looked like a fracas broke out before the game during the warmup period. I told him that a Steelers player, maybe two, got ejected from a game before the game even started. He claimed that was impossible, "How can someone get ejected before the game even starts?" I think one of the players was Joey Porter. Am I right?
ANSWER: Before a game in Cleveland on Nov. 14, 2004, Joey Porter and Browns running back William Green were ejected for a pregame altercation on the field. Porter's ejected resulted in James Harrison's first NFL start, and during that start Harrison recorded his first NFL sack.

BOB WALKER FROM BRENTWOOD, TN: As has been publicized on Jan. 29, which was the 50th anniversary of the event, the Steelers had an amazing 4 draft picks and 1 free agent from the 1974 draft class make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Has any other team ever come close to matching that in terms of HOF players from the same class?
ANSWER: Two NFL teams selected three players from a single draft class that ended up enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Green Bay's 1958 draft class included fullback Jim Taylor on the second round, middle linebacker Ray Nitschke as its second pick in the third round, and guard Jerry Kramer in the fourth round. Also landing three Hall of Fame players in a single class was Dallas in 1964, with safety Mel Renfro in the second round, wide receiver Bob Hayes in the seventh round, and quarterback Roger Staubach in the 10th round.