Let's get to it:
JOE TADDEO FROM ANTHEM, AZ:
I really liked the way Cody Wallace played this year. How long is he under contract and can he also fill in at guard if needed? He may not be as good as Maurkice Pouncey, but he seems to be just as mean on the field.
ANSWER: Cody Wallace is signed through the 2016 season, and when his current contract expires he will be 32 years old. You ask, can he also fill in at guard if needed? My answer would be that yes, Wallace could fill in at guard if needed, but he is a better center than a guard, whether as a fill-in or whatever.**
KEN PURFEY FROM SAN JOSE, CA:
Love your column and read it regularly. I am a CPA so I am curious about professional football players getting paid. Is it per game, per week, per month, once a year, or do they have a choice? And is it the individual team that does payroll, or is it all handled by the NFL office in New York City?
ANSWER: Based on the standard NFL contract, there are 17 weeks in a regular season – the 16 games plus the bye week. Players are paid their base salaries in 17 installments based on what is considered a regular season. If a player is due to make $1.7 million, for example, he would receive 17 checks of $100,000 apiece. If the contract includes some bonus payments – roster bonuses, workout bonuses, whatever – those typically are paid based on whatever date is specified in the individual contract. And each player is paid by his team, not the NFL. But if a player is fined by the NFL, the amount of the fine is automatically deducted from the check – consider it similafr to a form of a withholding tax – as opposed to the individual having to write a check to the league.
RYAN O'TOOLE FROM MECHANICSBURG, PA:
On a 1-10 scale, how big is having the dead money from Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley gone from the Steelers' salary cap in terms of improving/maintaining personnel? Just wondering if you consider that minor, significant, or major. Also, I'm not sure how answering some of these questions hasn't led to you having a drinking problem. It scares me some of these people are allowed to vote.
ANSWER: Carrying dead money on a salary cap is something to try to avoid, and I understand it's not necessarily something that can be avoided altogether. In terms of the Steelers salary cap situation as the 2016 league year approaches (it kicks in at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 9) my understanding is that the team won't have to make any roster moves to get into compliance. In the past, the Steelers have had to cut players to get themselves into compliance. Whether not having to cut players to get into compliance traces specifically to the situations regarding the contracts of Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley I cannot say for sure, but that's a significant situation the Steelers look to be able to avoid this offseason. To your final comment: Vote, drive, own a firearm – all scary if you ask me.
TRAI TURNER FROM DAYTON, OH:
The knock on Troy Polamalu that persuaded him to "retire" was his age. Since Robert Golden is no younger now, can you offer a more accurate reason why the team moved on from both him and Ike Taylor? I love all these guys, but can anyone say we upgraded the secondary when quarterbacks across the league had career days against our secondary?
ANSWER: The Steelers pass defense, regardless of your claim that "quarterbacks across the league had career days against our secondary," was better this season than it was last season, the final one of the great careers of Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu. To emphasize, Taylor and Polamalu were great Steelers players, but they were done. Their playing careers were over. They weren't assets to the team anymore. And for the team, it was time to move on. Polamalu and Taylor both had a lot of NFL seasons on their bodies, and they were at an age where professional athletes are in decline, which meant it wasn't going to get better magically in 2015. The human body just doesn't work that way. In 2014, the Steelers allowed quarterbacks to complete 64.5 percent for 30 touchdowns, with only 11 interceptions and 33 sacks. In 2015, the Steelers allowed quarterbacks to complete 64.3 percent for 29 touchdowns, but with 17 interceptions and 48 sacks. Understand that their 2015 pass defense wasn't good enough, but it still was better than it was in 2014, and it was way better than it would have been with a 34-year-old Polamalu at safety and a 35-year-old Taylor at cornerback. So, yes, I am saying the Steelers pass defense was better short-term as a result of the Steelers moving on from both Polamalu and Taylor, and it allowed the long-term process of improving that phase of the team to start.
Take a look at Team Photographer Karl Roser's selection of greatest photos from the season. Part 3 of a 4 part series.
JUSTIN ECKROTE FROM HAVERTOWN, PA:
I have a radical idea regarding the Pro Bowl that I would love your opinion on. Replace the following season's Hall of Fame Game with the Pro Bowl, go back to AFC vs. NFC, take a page from Major League Baseball and name the winning conference the "home team" for the Super Bowl. This could solve a few issues with the game. Injured players or players on Super Bowl bound teams would have a chance to play; the softness of the game would be less an issue because we'll be football starved at that point; no teams have to play the extra preseason game; there would be an extra, albeit small, incentive for the players to win. Maybe you can pass this on to the Rooneys and they can champion the idea, or you can use it as a platform to mock me and entertain others in the meantime. Either way, always look forward to Asked and Answered.
ANSWER: I'm gonna go with mock/entertain plan here. First, I agree with going back to AFC vs. NFC – because it makes it easier for viewers to identify/relate to the two squads on the field – and I also agree on not having two unfortunate teams have to play a fifth preseason game, which seems to fall under the "cruel and unusual punishment" statute of the Geneva Convention and should therefore be outlawed as a crime against humanity.
But having the Pro Bowl in early August would not be popular with coaches and general managers, who would find their best players being exposed to injury in what amounts to a fifth preseason game anyway because it doesn't count in the standings. And besides getting to pick whether you wear your home jerseys or road jerseys in the game, what incentive is there to be the home team for a Super Bowl played at an otherwise neutral site? Nope. Never happen.
DAREN JOHNSON FROM PORTLAND, OR:
I've noticed that the Thursday Night games are mostly dogs, especially during the last half of the season. No offense, but isn't there a way to avoid Jaguars vs. Browns and schedule more intriguing, playoff-scenario type games?
ANSWER: Because of the inherent strain on teams when they have to follow up a Sunday game with another one on Thursday night, the NFL mandates that all 32 teams get to enjoy a Thursday night game, with each of the two teams chosen for that season-opening Thursday night subjected to one other Thursday appearance. Call it the "misery loves company" mandate. So as a viewer, would you rather have two bad teams paired off in a game, or have bad teams facing good teams? It seems you're going to get one or the other, since every team gets a game.
RICHIE KOWALCZYK FROM ERIE, PA:
Will Mike Adams ever play another down for the Steelers?
ANSWER: Sorry, but my crystal ball is in the shop.
CLINT LANGE FROM ATLANTA, GA:
Your answers seemed very sarcastic on Feb 4. My question is, do you select dumb questions on purpose? I happen to prefer cranky Bob. It's more fun to read.
ANSWER: Seemed? I guess I'll just have to work harder at it. And all along I was thinking that people sent me dumb questions on purpose.
MICHAEL SNOW FROM SIMPSONVILLE, S.C.:
Sometimes I don't get all of the Steelers news that I would like. Is there another Steelers site coming out of Pittsburgh that I can read or watch on the internet?
P.S.: I just love some of your answers to some of these very unusual questions. Thanks, and keep up the great Steelers work.
ANSWER: Sure, let me direct you to one of the many websites that steal stuff off Steelers.com, or pirate the usage of the team's name in naming their own site and then steal stuff off Steelers.com, or the sites that claim to cover the team without their "reporters" ever leaving their mother's basement. I'm not doing that.
SEAN PETERSON FROM SAN DIEGO, CA:
I look forward to reading Asked and Answered every week, but I just wanted to let you know that the one from Feb 4 was by far your best one yet. Keep us fans honest. And keep up the great work!
ANSWER: Glad you enjoy it. I do try to keep y'all honest, but sometimes it's more difficult than it looks.
RICH MILICH FROM BOISE, ID:
If my question doesn't appear in Asked and Answered, does that mean you thought it was too stupid a question?
ANSWER: Don't sell your question short. Lots of dumb ones are chosen.
GORDON DEDMAN FROM FAREHAM, HAMPSHIRE, UK:
I haven't a question, just wanted to say I love your wit. Makes great reading and makes me smile. Hopefully everyone else enjoys it. Thanks and take care.
ANSWER: I hope to make you laugh out loud soon.