Let's get to it:
MEMET SRATT FROM NEW YORK, NY: How many times have the Steelers traded down in the first round? And if the player they want is not available with the 20th pick, should they consider trading down to get more picks in the 2022 draft?
ANSWER: The only time in the modern era I can recall the Steelers trading down in the first round was in 2001 – Kevin Colbert's second draft with the team – when they worked a deal with the New York Jets to drop from No. 16 to No. 19 and picked nose tackle Casey Hampton. They then used some of what they acquired from the Jets to trade with New England to move up in the second round to select Georgia linebacker Kendrell Bell, who went on to be voted the 2001 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. It's a nice idea to trade down and accumulate more picks; it's usually something worth considering, but executing the idea in the real world isn't as simple as it can sound when discussing it in theory. What team will want to trade up? How far down will you have to go to make a deal? What might that team be willing to trade to move up? And if in trading down, you end up not getting a good player you could have had by not trading, how does that help your team? Considering this kind of a move is one thing but executing it and coming away with a favorable outcome is not so simple. And if a player is sitting there you really like, forget the trade and pick that player.
CASEY MCDONALD FROM MONTGOMERY, AL: Am I wrong in thinking that hiring Brian Flores was a pretty savvy move? I know that players are usually the big signings to be excited about, but I think he will have a major impact with us this year.
ANSWER: At this stage, I believe the addition of Brian Flores to the coaching staff could end up being comparable to the addition of Mike Munchak to the coaching staff back in 2014.
KEITH MILLER FROM WAYNESVILLE, NC: Often I read that new GMs cut or trade a player because he was not one of his picks. Don't you think our new GM should be identified and participate in the draft process? That way he has buy-in on the players selected.
ANSWER: The longer I continue with Asked and Answered, the more I am learning that so many who claim to be long-time Steelers fans have absolutely no idea of how the franchise does business. Whoever holds the job title of general manager for the Steelers does not have that level of unilateral authority. The Steelers general manager is not singularly responsible for making draft picks, for hiring and/or firing the head coach, for cutting players, for signing players, for determining how much players will earn if they're signed or re-signed. The Steelers personnel department will have worked for a calendar year under Kevin Colbert when it comes time to execute the 2022 NFL Draft, so what sense would it make to add an individual to the actual picking when that individual hasn't been a part of the information gathering and evaluating process? Once the Steelers complete the draft and then hire a replacement general manager, I can guarantee you that individual is not going to have unilateral authority over those rookies in any way. Those rookies will play themselves into starting jobs or significant roles on the team or play themselves off the roster and out of the NFL over time. And if the new GM doesn't have "buy-in," that's going to end up being his problem, not those players' problem.
BART WORTHINGTON FROM FRESNO, CA: Now that the Steelers have signed Brian Flores to the coaching staff, do you see us possibly trading for Deshaun Watson this offseason?
ANSWER: I have mentioned this many times in response to questions on this topic, and I continue to get the same submissions so let's try this one final time: The Houston Texans are reported to be seeking multiple No. 1 draft picks plus significant veteran players in any trade for Deshaun Watson, and when a team acquires a player in a trade it must assume his contract terms. Those terms call for Watson to be paid, starting in 2022, $35 million, $37 million, $32 million, and $32 million, respectively over the next four years. And before any of that even could be considered, Watson also has a no-trade clause in his contract, and so he would have to approve the destination team ahead of time. But the real red flag for me in terms of the Steelers having ANY interest would be the 22 unsettled civil suits filed in March and April of 2021 that accuse Watson of coercive and lewd sexual behavior, with two that allege sexual assault. There is not a realistic scenario in which I could imagine the Steelers taking on a player with that level of legal entanglement.
ANTHONY BROWN FROM NEW LEBANON, OH: I know General Manager Kevin Colbert said the Steelers wouldn't be super aggressive in free agency with us finally having some major cap room. Are we able to rollover X-amount of that cap space for next year, or do we lose out if we don't spend it all?
ANSWER: To clarify, my interpretation of the remarks Kevin Colbert made in response to a question about the Steelers being aggressive in the upcoming free agent market was that he doubted the team would be one of those "aggressive front-of-the-line free agency" teams. My opinion is that the Steelers still can be active in free agency without being one of those teams that announces mega-bucks signings at 4:01 p.m. on March 16. But to answer your question, yes, there is the ability to roll over salary cap space from one season to the next.
JUSTIN VINCENT FROM ENID, OK: Are the Steelers interested in pursuing Carson Wentz? Why are they so stuck on Mason Rudolph?
ANSWER: Why are you so stuck on Carson Wentz? The guy makes a lot of money ($20-plus million a season), refused to get vaccinated against COVID and ended up on the COVID-19 list late last season, and after being the second overall pick of the 2016 NFL he is about to be on his third NFL team if the Indianapolis Colts pull the plug on him this offseason as expected. Two different NFL teams don't bail on a 6-year veteran, highly drafted quarterback if there aren't some issues they don't care to deal with. And did you see his performance in the regular season finale against 2-14 Jacksonville? I did.
DAVE KITLAK FROM UHRICHSVILLE, OH: I'm not suggesting that the team do this, but out of curiosity: Are the Steelers still able to use the franchise tag on JuJu Smith-Schuster, or since his contract voided do they have no rights to him?
ANSWER: The voidable years provision in NFL contracts does not mean the player becomes an unrestricted free agent immediately, but that he becomes an unrestricted free agent when his contract is set to expire that year. Players under contract for the 2021 season, which describes JuJu Smith-Schuster's situation, have their contracts expire on the first day of the new league year (March 16 at 4 p.m., EST). The deadline for teams to use the franchise tag is March 8, so it would be possible for the Steelers to use the franchise tag on JuJu Smith-Schuster.
JACK WESTBROOK FROM SAINT PAUL, MN: What do you think of the Steelers drafting quarterback Desmond Ridder of the University of Cincinnati in the second round of this year's draft?
ANSWER: As of right now, my opinion is that I don't believe this is the year for the Steelers to draft a quarterback. None of them excite me, and the team has too many other needs and not enough picks to address them.
PAUL RILEY FROM MURRIETA, CA: Has there been any thought given to trading for a young quarterback such as Gardener Minshew? He's mobile and an accurate passer most of the time, but never had the roster around him and would be a smaller cap hit allowing more free agent activity.
ANSWER: How is Gardner Minshew a better option than Mason Rudolph?
RICHARD SANTRY FROM ALLENDALE, SC: With the lockout and impending danger to the scheduled start of the Major League Baseball season, when was the last NFL strike?
ANSWER: The last work stoppage in the NFL came in 1987.
NATE DAVO FROM AUBURN, IN: Do you think we'll ever see another Tom Brady? I mean mostly because of his practice of signing team friendly deals to enable his teams to build around him instead of going for one of the highest salaries he could get. I feel with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen's big contracts and soon to be Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, that they'll care too much about their money as compared to helping their teams spread the money around and win.
ANSWER: Before you break ground on the statue, here are a couple of things to know, and Tom Brady made this point himself about himself during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" a few years ago. During his appearance on the show, Brady explained to Kimmel why, in the age of record-breaking quarterback contracts, he was, at the time, the 18th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. "That's a good question. That's usually, when I don't want to answer a question, I always say, 'That's a good question,'" Brady told Kimmel. "I think the thing I've always felt for me in my life, winning has been a priority. And my wife (model Gisele Bündchen) makes a lot of money." According to reports, Gisele Bündchen is worth $400 million and earns in the neighborhood of $40 million a year. Or as Brady then said to Kimmel, "I'm a little smarter than you think."
MARK PALMER FROM MORGANTOWN, WV: In response to Dennis Mosby in the Feb. 22 installment of Asked and Answered, you stated that you were "barely qualified to empty the trash in Kevin Colbert's office." I suggest you not sell yourself short. I see you take out the trash in this very space every Tuesday and Thursday. Bah-dum-tss...
ANSWER: He'll be here all week, ladies and gentlemen. Try the veal and remember to tip your server.