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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Jan. 17

Let's get to it:

DOUGLAS PIPER FROM STATE COLLEGE, PA: Kickers have been getting credit for the points scored during extra points forever. What do players get credit for statistically during a 2-point conversion? On the Kenny Pickett to Diontae Johnson conversion on Jan. 8, Sunday, I assume Johnson gets statistical credit for scoring 2 points (just as Chris Boswell would for 1 point). But what about the other stats? Does Pickett get a completion? Does Johnson get a reception? Does Johnson get the 2 yards receiving?
ANSWER: Just as Chris Boswell, or any placekicker, gets credit for scoring 1 point for a successful conversion, Diontae Johnson gets credit for scoring 2 points for that successful 2-point conversion. There are no other statistics credited – not for the pass thrown or the reception or the yardage.

DARIUS LEE FROM HARRISBURG, PA: Do you think the Steelers front office blundered in player evaluation in allowing the more reliable JuJu Smith-Schuster to leave while extending Diontae Johnson's contract?
ANSWER: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson were in different situations with respect to their contracts. Smith-Schuster was an unrestricted free agent, and so it wasn't that the Steelers allowed him to leave as it was Smith-Schuster who chose to leave for what he would judge as a different/better situation. My sense is that Smith-Schuster was looking for an opportunity to put himself in position for a big payday, and after assessing the Steelers' situation following Ben Roethlisberger's retirement, he chose to move on, which translated into him signing a one-year contract with Kansas City for $3.7 million. Johnson had one year remaining on the contract he had signed as a rookie when he and the team agreed to a contract extension.

RON TAYLOR FROM WEST POINT, IN: Do the Steelers get two picks in the second round of the draft this year?
ANSWER: The Steelers will have two second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft – their original selection and the one obtained from the Chicago Bears in the trade for Chase Claypool.

STEFAN PISOCKI FROM WILMINGTON, DE: I was sorry to see Javon Hargrave leave the Steelers as a salary cap casualty a few years ago and am happy to see he has been a significant contributor to one of the NFL's best defenses in Philadelphia. Is it possible he may come back to us?
ANSWER: Javon Hargrave can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2023, and at this point I would imagine his return to the Steelers is wishful thinking on your part.

ERIC SCHIER FROM DOWNINGTOWN, PA: Sean Voyles asked you for your opinion as to what positions the Steelers need to target in the first two rounds of the draft. Your reply was as if he asked you to guess what positions the Steelers would draft. A guess is different from an opinion. Did you not read his question carefully or did you not answer it clearly?
ANSWER: Please allow me to be more clear for you. An opinion offered without facts, or without enough pertinent facts to have an informed opinion is nothing but a guess. Here are some of the issues that will impact which players – and the positions they play – the Steelers might consider in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft: How will the decisions of players who decide to forego their remaining college eligibility impact the overall pool of draft-eligible players (that deadline was Jan. 16)? What is the Steelers' situation in terms of the 2023 salary cap? Are they going to have to trim players/salaries to get into compliance, or will they have some room to maneuver? What is going to happen in free agency, both in terms of players the Steelers lose and the players they sign? How does the top of the first round unfold, and how does that impact the pool of players available once the Steelers are on the clock? Answering Sean Voyles' question without having any of that information would have been a guess, and my decision in answering the way I did was that he deserved more than that.

ERIC MARTINEZ FROM EL PASO, TX: Love Asked and Answered. You should let us reply, make it more interesting.
ANSWER: This is not a talk show – and there are many of those available for fans who are interested in that sort of give-and-take. And I am not a licensed therapist, here to listen to rants and then offer counseling.

KEN WILSON FROM MILTON, FL: Around the league this year there are several notable players who remain unsigned because of wanting more guaranteed money in their contracts. If a player accepts a franchise tag designation, how much of that salary is guaranteed?
ANSWER: The entire amount is guaranteed immediately upon the player signing the franchise tag tender.

ALEX HATCHWELL FROM ALDERGROVE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: In one of your most recent installments of Asked and Answered, you noted that in 1976, 8 of the Steelers starting 11 on defense were voted to the Pro Bowl. And that the defense had 5 shutouts during a 9-game winning streak that closed the regular season. I recall that Terry Bradshaw was injured at that time and Mike Kruczek was his backup. Is that true and did Terry make it back for the playoffs?
ANSWER: The 1976 season was the one where the Steelers started 1-4, and in that fourth loss – to the Browns in Cleveland – Joe "Turkey" Jones planted Terry Bradshaw head-first in the turf after the whistle in one of the all-time cheap shots in my history watching NFL football. Bradshaw missed six games total that season (not consecutive) with neck and wrist injuries, and he was replaced in the lineup by rookie Mike Kruczek. And to say the Steelers didn't put the onus of the offense on Kruczek's shoulders is an understatement, because in his 6 starts (all of which the Steelers won and by a combined 154-25 at that) he completed 43-of-72 (59.7 percent) for 577 yards, with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bradshaw started the regular season finale, and then both playoff games – the 40-14 win over the Colts in Baltimore and the 24-7 loss to the Raiders in Oakland for the AFC Championship.

GREGORY WHARTON FROM BRIDGEVILLE, PA: Have there ever been instances of Steelers players restructuring their contracts to allow for more cap space? If so, who were they?
ANSWER: The practice of Steelers players restructuring their contracts to clear more cap space for the team in a given season is such a regular occurrence that I cannot remember an offseason in the recent past when it didn't happen.

TIMOTHY TRATHOWEN FROM SPRINGFIELD, OH: When does free agency officially start? Are teams allowed to negotiate with players before that date?
ANSWER: Free agency begins officially at 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 15. Teams are permitted to negotiate contracts with their own free agents at any time, starting right now if both sides are amenable, and the "legal tampering period" begins at noon EST on Monday, March 13. Here is how the NFL explains what is meant by the legal tampering period: "During the period beginning at noon, New York time, on March 13 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 15, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2022 player contracts at 4 p.m., New York time, on March 15. During the above two-day negotiating period, a prospective UFA who is not represented by an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor is permitted to communicate directly with a new club's front office officials (excluding the head coach and other members of the club's coaching staff) regarding contract negotiations. No prospective unrestricted free agent is permitted to execute a contract with a new club until 4 p.m., New York time, on March 15."

ALAN WARNER FROM EAST SPRINGFIELD, PA: Recently I was watching a video of the 1965 U.S. Open golf tournament. Among the leaders was a golfer named Mason Rudolph. Any relation?
ANSWER: No. All of my relatives hate golf. But if you're asking whether that golfer is related to the Steelers quarterback, that answer is also a no. Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph was named after his father and grandfather, and he is not related to the golfer with the same name.