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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 28

Let's get to it:

PHILIP TURNER FROM WARNER ROBINS, GA: My question is about the jersey numbers the Steelers have retired. I have seen a few ask about it, and I haven't seen anyone mention No. 70, Ernie Stautner's number. Wasn't his number the first one the Steelers retired?
ANSWER: The first jersey number retired by the Steelers was Ernie Stautner's No. 70, and it happened at halftime of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 25, 1964, at Pitt Stadium. The Eagles won the game, 34-10, in front of a crowd of 38,393. Joe Greene's No. 75 was retired at halftime of a game vs. the Ravens on Nov. 2, 2014, at Heinz Field. The Steelers won that game, 43-23, in front of a crowd of 63,971. Franco Harris' No. 32 was retired at halftime of a game vs. the Raiders on Dec. 24, 2022, at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers won that game, 13-10, in front of a crowd of 64,761.

BARRY PATTERSON FROM FREDERICKSBURG, VA: Considering the amount of time, energy, and money spent on scouting the soon-to-be draft picks, will the NFL ever be inclined to add more people to the game day rosters and to the practice squad? It seems each year the same people barely miss and are brought back.
ANSWER: This is a popular position of fans, but don't you think that if either the players, or the union, or management shared this opinion then the size of the rosters on game day and the practice squad would be increased? I'm first going to explain why the size of the rosters on game days do not include all 53 players on the active roster. It's very rare when any team has all 53 of its players healthy enough to play in a game, and so what's going to end up happening if all players on the roster are eligible for the game is that more often than not is a game between one team with more healthy players than its opponent. That's a fairness issue right there, and so to make that as infrequent an occurrence as possible, the inactive lists were created. That way, there are many, many more games played between teams with the same number of physically available players. As for practice squads, there were 16 players on each team's practice squad in 2022, so that means a team was "in control" to some degree of 69 players each week of the regular season? If you multiply 69-times-32, you get 2,208 players. That should be enough.

JAMES WONDERLING FROM MCKEES ROCKS, PA: I believe Cedric Wilson was a wide receiver on the Steelers team that defeated the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. What were his regular season and Super Bowl stats for 2005?
ANSWER: Cedric Wilson entered the NFL as a No. 6 pick (169 overall) in the 2001 NFL Draft by the 49ers. After his rookie contract expired after the 2004 season, San Francisco chose not to tender an amount for an extension and Wilson became an unrestricted free agent. His first season with the Steelers was 2005, and Wilson served as a third receiver on a team where Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle-El were the starters. Wilson finished third on the team with 26 catches on 53 targets for 451 yards (17.3 average) and no touchdowns. In Super Bowl XL, Wilson caught one pass for 20 yards.

FRANK FOGGIA FROM SAULT STE MARIE, ONTARIO, CANADA: Everything I read on social media is casting Dan Moore Jr. as a lost cause and targeting that position as requiring change. I'm not sure I agree. Does it not take time for an offensive lineman to develop?
ANSWER: My first bit of advice is to shop for evaluations somewhere other than social media. From there, consider that the Steelers played in 3 Super Bowls during the 2000s with Marvel Smith, Max Starks, and Jonathan Scott, respectively as the starting left tackles. That's proof a team doesn't need the next Anthony Munoz at left tackle to contend for a championship. I am of the opinion that Dan Moore Jr. has improved significantly over the 33 regular season starts he already has on his resume, and he won't be 25 years old until late September. It's not against the law to wait more than 15 minutes for a player to develop, especially at a position as demanding as an NFL left tackle. But if you'd rather follow the mob, try to consider the source.

BRIAN HENDERSON FROM MURRELLS INLET, SC: With Brian Flores and Jerry Olsavsky no longer on the Steelers defensive coaching staff, and the new hire of Aaron Curry as the inside linebackers coach, do you see team preparing for a major changeover in the strategy of acquiring players at that position, with the possibility of unrestricted free agents Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, and Myles Jack moving on?
ANSWER: If the Steelers choose to do anything that would qualify as a "major change" in an aspect of their defense, that kind of a decision would come from the coordinator level of the defensive staff and above.

DANA FISHER FROM ROCKPORT, ME: Who, if anyone, do you think could be franchise tagged this year?
ANSWER: If you're referring to the Steelers' unrestricted free agents, I would expect that number to be zero.

KEVIN WHITE FROM CEDAR FALLS, IA: I'm curious about your thoughts on the quarterback situation we have considering the following facts: Kenny Pickett was in the concussion protocol at least twice, Mitch Trubisky carries a $10.6 million cap hit next season, and Mason Rudolph is an unrestricted free agent and won't be back. Is it crazy to think of grabbing a quarterback with one of our early draft picks "just in case" Pickett doesn't pan out or continues to get concussed?
ANSWER: Sorry, but I cannot be convinced it's a good idea to use a premium draft pick on a quarterback the year immediately after using the 20th overall pick of a draft on a quarterback.

JAMES GILMAN FROM ROCHESTER, NY: The Steelers have three West Coast games next season. If two are back-to-back, would it be wise for them to stay out there instead of traveling back and forth?
ANSWER: There's a whole lot more to an NFL team and support personnel spending two weeks of a regular season three time zones away than just the travel. I cannot even pretend to know the specifics and the logistics of such a move, especially when you consider that every first-class football practice facility in the general area of those NFL cities figures to be in use by some team at some level. Chuck Noll took the team to the West Coast early on a couple of occasions with varied success but staying for 2 weeks and playing 2 games isn't something I ever recall.

STEVE SAMICK FROM ST MARYS, PA: On draft day when trades are made, does Steelers President Art Rooney II have to approve the trade, or can Coach Mike Tomlin and/or General Manager Omar Khan make the deal ? It sometimes appears that the trades happen quickly.
ANSWER: Within the Steelers organization, neither the general manager nor the head coach has complete authority during the three days of the NFL Draft. That's just not the way things work.

LAWRENCE DOUGLAS FROM TARENTUM, PA: You mentioned that we have Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Calvin Austin lll on the roster, but what is the situation with Anthony Miller? He's a former second-round pick, and his injury situation seems to have made him lost in the shuffle. What is his contract situation?
ANSWER: Anthony Miller is an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers signed Miller after the Houston Texans cut him on Oct. 6, 2021, and since then he has played 25 offensive snaps and made one reception for 2 yards. He did enter the NFL via the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft (the 51st overall selection) from Memphis. He won't turn 29 until early October, which is in his favor, but he also hasn't been available or productive since coming to the Steelers.

ROMAN ROGER FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: How many linemen, offense or defense, have worn the jersey No. 65 since 1933?
ANSWER: There have been 20 players who have worn jersey No. 65 for the Steelers, and 19 of them have been linemen, either offensive or defensive. In reverse chronological order, those players are John Mastrangelo (1948), Lou Allen (1951), George Hughes (1951-52, 1954-55), Ralph Jecha (1956), Bob O'Neil (1957), John Nisby (1957-61), Tom Bettis (1962), Bob Nichols (1965), Lloyd Voss (1966-71), Tom Beasley (1978-83), Ray Pinney (1985-87), Jim Boyle (1987), John Jackson (1988-97), Alan Faneca (1998-99), Rich Tylski (2000-01), Jeremy Parquat (2007-08), Al Woods (2011-13), Jerald Hawkins (2016-17, 2020). Tom Bettis wore No. 65 for the Steelers in 1956, but he is listed as a linebacker; and Kraig Urbik wore No. 65 as a No. 3 pick in 2009 who was waived on the final cut of the preseason but went on to play in 100 NFL regular season games as a guard over the next 7 years for Buffalo and Miami.

MARK BIGENHO FROM PLUM, PA: With the Lost Angeles Rams cutting inside linebacker Bobby Wagner, do you think the Steelers can sign him for a reasonable price?
ANSWER: "Reasonable" is a relative term. Bobby Wagner is an 11-year veteran inside linebacker who has been voted first-team All-Pro 6 times, as well as being one of 3 inside linebackers voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2010s team. Bobby Wagner also will be 33 in June, and over his 11 seasons he has played in 184 games (regular season and playoffs). In his 168 regular season games, Wagner has played 10,698 defensive snaps and another 722 on special teams. Reports are that Wagner has been paid a bit more than $92 million in salary and bonuses since entering the NFL. Is Wagner content with that number, or is he looking for one big splash before he retires? If the Steelers have to present the highest offer in order to sign Wagner, it won't happen.

BRENT CROASMUN FROM PADEN CITY, WV: I have been watching Steeler games from the 1978-79 seasons on YouTube as of late. Some of these games have Jack Fleming and Myron Cope dubbed in for the announcing. The play-by-play by Fleming and color commentary by Cope are second to none. How many years did these two guys work together broadcasting Steeler games on the radio?
ANSWER: Jack Fleming's tenure doing Steelers games on the radio began in 1965 and continued through the 1993 season. Since Myron Cope debuted as the color commentator in 1970, Cope and Fleming were a team from 1970 through the 1993 season.

ROBERT LAVIN FROM PEORIA, AZ: Do you know if the Steelers plan on bringing back their Men's Fantasy Camp in the near future? I was a participant years ago and it was an amazing experience getting to be around the training camp facilities in Latrobe and interacting with former and a few current players who helped run the camp.
ANSWER: There are currently no plans to resurrect Men's Fantasy Camp.