Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 21

Let's get to it:

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KEVIN HOWARD FROM MACEDONIA, OH:
I love Asked & Answered. It's another way this displaced Steelers fan stays in touch with the team. How does the team decide on which squad to introduce before home games?

ANSWER: It's actually a rather arbitrary situation, and the head coach has final say, if it matters to him at the time. And usually, it's done on an alternating basis – offense one week, defense for the next home game – throughout the season.

MICHAEL ROSKO FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA:
Did William Gay even dress for a game this year?

ANSWER: Zach Mettenberger was inactive for 12 of the 16 regular season games and all three playoff games. He was in uniform for the regular season games vs. Kansas City, vs. the Jets, vs. New England, and vs. Cleveland. He did not take a snap in any of those four games.

BRADLEY DYLL FROM HERMITAGE, PA:
With the Combine and the draft upcoming, where are the strengths of this years draft class, and will it benefit the Steelers like last years draft.

ANSWER: This is how General Manager Kevin Colbert assessed the pool of talent available in this year's draft class: "Just off the top of my head, running backs are a pretty good group. Wide receivers, always great numbers. We talk about that forever. Spread offenses provide a bunch of receivers. Offensive interior linemen, not great depth. Offensive tackles aren't as good as they have been. The secondary, again, because of spread offenses, you get a lot of spread defenses, a lot of cornerbacks and safeties in this group. Outside linebackers, we think there is a good group. But again, 90 percent of them are playing with their hand on the ground in college. Until we get to the Combine and put them through pass drop drills and see their personal workout on their pro days, that could maybe give us more evidence of their ability to play in the 3-4. Inside linebackers, not real deep. Defensive line is not as deep as it was last year."

ALAN ABELS FROM BRICK, NJ:
When a player is hit with the franchise tag, how is his salary determined for the upcoming year?

ANSWER: The figure comes from the average of the top five player salaries at his position.

BILL LETRENT FROM BEDFORD, PA:
Why don't offensive or defensive coordinators sit up in the coaches' box? I would think they could see the field better than they can being on the sideline. They could always communicate to players on sideline by phone and other coaches by headset.

ANSWER: It's personal preference. Some prefer being upstairs in the booth for the vantage point and the relative calm. Others prefer to be on the sideline to have a better feel for the game and the players.

DAVE ARMS FROM BETHEL, OH:
If Le'Veon Bell is not re-signed, can Karlos Williams fill that spot?

ANSWER: Karlos Williams would be in the mix, but the job wouldn't just be handed to him. I believe the Steelers will look to draft a running back in the middle rounds and then let competition determine the roles.

SCOTT POOLE FROM YORK, PA:
How do you feel about subtracting two of the four preseason games?

ANSWER: Fine with me, but I don't know whether that would go over with the players, and here's why: the revenue from the preseason games is part of the pool that ultimately determines the salary cap each year. Fewer preseason games would mean less money into the pool that's divided between the owners and players, which would mean a lower salary cap per team, which essentially would mean a pay cut for the players. Unless that revenue is replaced somehow, I don't know if a reduction of the preseason would be approved by the NFLPA.

ROB WALLACE FROM CHARLOTTE, NC:
If Deshaun Watson falls to No. 30, which is where the Steelers will be picking in the first round, do they take him? I like this kid. His toughness and athleticism remind me of Kordell Stewart, who I loved as a kid growing up.

ANSWER: I do not draft a quarterback in the first round of this draft.

VAL MCMORRIS FROM TYLER, TX:
What are your thoughts on the Steelers drafting Joe Mixon? We have lost the last two seasons to the eventual Super Bowl winner largely because Le'Veon Bell was out. So, draft his clone, who has more speed and better receiving skills, so the offense doesn't miss a beat when Bell is either injured or taking a breather.

ANSWER: I think I hear "Boomer Sooner" being played in the background. Joe Mixon "has more speed and better receiving skills" than Le'Veon Bell? Sorry, not buying that at all. And Mixon comes with the kind of baggage and creates the kind of distraction that outweighs whatever his talent level happens to be. That video of him punching a girl during his time at Oklahoma is too graphic and too inflammatory. That's my opinion. Too much baggage for a backup running back.

DAVE COSTELLO FROM ROSCOE, IL:
How many questions did you receive today about whether or not the Steelers should sign Mario Williams?

ANSWER: Wait for it …

DWAYNE RUTLEDGE FROM NORTH CHARLESTON, SC:
Do you think the Steelers will have any interest in Mario Williams? And also do you see Kelvin Beachum returning?

ANSWER: Mario Williams is 32 years old, and he had 1.5 sacks in 13 games for the Dolphins in 2016, five sacks in 15 games for the Bills in 2015. I really don't see him as the answer to any of the Steelers' questions this offseason. Kelvin Beachum didn't re-sign with the Steelers because he wanted Maurkice Pouncey money, and so I doubt he'd be interested in returning to be a backup.

JOHN  PUHALA FROM SPRINGFIELD, VA:
With the strong development of Alejandro Villanueva, has he locked down the left tackle position? Along with a long term contract?

ANSWER: I believe he has taken over the starting left tackle job, and with reports that the Steelers are interested in doing a longer-term contract with him instead of just issuing him a one-year tender for the veteran minimum – as otherwise is required for an exclusive rights free agent, which is what Alejandro Villanueva is this offseason – I believe the team sees things the same way. Which is why I answered the previous question about Kelvin Beachum the way I did.

WAYNE WOLFE FROM FELTON, PA
Did the Steelers sign Tony Romo for the 2017 season?

ANSWER: Tony Romo has a valid contract with the Dallas Cowboys. No team can sign him. But if and when he doesn't, no.

JEREMY BROWN FROM FAIRPORT, NY:
A good number of our 2016 free agents who left us (specifically thinking about Kelvin Beachum, Antwon Blake, Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Byron Stingily, and Cam Thomas) are once again free agents in this year's cycle. Assuming Steve McLendon does not join this list, which of these players would the Steelers be most interested in re-signing?

ANSWER: None.

LANCE HORTON FROM BELLEVIEW, FL:
It seems that Le'Veon Bell is not available in important games, and with that being said do you feel the Steelers would pick a running back early enough to get Dalvin Cook from Florida State? I would love to work with the Steelers. I would travel anywhere anytime for this team.

ANSWER: So, you'd do anything for the team? Would you do four Asked and Answereds a week during the season? Didn't think so. The Steelers would have to trade up in the first round to pick Dalvin Cook, and I don't see that happening.


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