Let’s get to it:
EDDIE WANEK FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM: For the life of me I cannot understand why it seems the Steelers just let Mike Munchak go to Denver as an offensive line coach after he wasn't hired to be the Broncos head coach?
ANSWER: The Steelers didn’t “just let Mike Munchak go.” They made an attempt to extend his contract even before it expired at the end of the 2018 season, and their effort to extend his contract included a salary very reflective of his status as one of the premier position coaches in the NFL. One more time, I will present what Munchak told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about why he left the Steelers to take the same job with the Denver Broncos: “As my career shows, when I get somewhere, I stay there. When this opportunity came up (in Denver) to work in a city with my daughter, her husband, my granddaughter and my other daughter not far away in L.A., that’s what we wanted. I’m not 30 or 40 years old anymore. I’m 58 and different things become important as you age. It was a family decision all the way. This was all about family from the beginning. If my daughter lived (in Pittsburgh), I wouldn’t have taken any head coaching interviews. I’d rather be a line coach here than a head coach anywhere else, other than family.”
BOB RUSSAK FROM HASTINGS, NY: With Joey Porter’s departure as outside linebackers coach, why wouldn't the Steelers jump on Kevin Greene to replace him?
ANSWER: Kevin Greene currently is under contract with the New York Jets as their outside linebackers coach.
DAVID SAURER FROM PARMA, OH: I definitely agree with your assertion that the Steelers need to improve their skill players on defense. Who in the free agency market could we possibly consider?
ANSWER: While I understand fans’ interest in talking about free agency and the draft, and in identifying potential players the Steelers could target in each, there is absolutely no purpose in starting that exercise now when it comes to free agents. First of all, free agency doesn’t begin until March 13 when contracts expire and the new league year begins, and teams also have a two-week window (Feb. 19-March 5) to designate players with the franchise tag or the transition tag, both of which limit player movement to varying degrees. Also, teams can re-sign their own players starting today and going all the way up to the start of free agency. So to put some of those dates into perspective, based on the calendar, which tells us that today is Jan. 22: Feb. 19 is five weeks away, and March 5 is seven weeks away. March 13 is eight weeks and one day away. Nobody even knows which players will get to free agency, and so throwing around names at this stage of the calendar is a meaningless exercise.
RICO GRAZIANO FROM LOS ANGELES, CA: Since Antonio Brown is an All-Pro and on the same level as Khalil Mack, do you think the Steelers should get nothing less than a No. 1 and a No. 2 draft pick in any potential trade?
ANSWER: Just to recap, here are the complete terms of the trade that sent Khalil Mack from the Raiders to the Bears: The Bears gave up first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third-round pick in 2020 and a sixth-round pick in 2019 to acquire Mack earlier Saturday. In return, the Bears got back a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2020. I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which the Steelers, should they decide to trade Antonio Brown, getting No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks in return, and here’s why: A wide receiver, even an All-Pro wide receiver, isn’t worth as much as an All-Pro edge rusher, and so comparing one deal to the other doesn’t really apply.
CHRIS KNAPPENBERGER FROM BROOKLYN, NY: I understand some fans (in the Pittsburgh area mostly) and media dislike the Steelers playing so many games in primetime, but not living in Pittsburgh nor having NFL Ticket, it offers me the convenience to stay home and watch. Do you think us missing the playoffs this year will impact the number amount of primetime games for the Steelers in 2019?
ANSWER: The Steelers are too attractive to the networks, in my opinion, for their 9-6-1 record in 2018 to be a significant deterrent in them being scheduled for anything short of the maximum of five primetime appearances in 2019.
BILL POPLARCHIK FROM ANCHORAGE, AK: Will the Steelers use the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell, and is there a downside to doing this?
ANSWER: My sense is that this is going to come down to the outcome of what I see as an inevitable arbitration decision as to the amount of the transition tag tender on Le’Veon Bell. Because Bell sat out the entire 2018 season, the NFL believes the transition tag tender should be in the neighborhood of $9 million, while the NFLPA believes it should be closer to $14.5 million. If it’s the lower number, I can see the Steelers using the transition tag. If it’s the higher number, I am less sure but not willing to dismiss the possibility. If the Steelers do put the transition tag on Bell and then they do not match the offer sheet he might sign, there would be no compensatory pick for losing Bell in the 2020 NFL Draft.
SHANE FRALEY FROM MEDFORD OR: Should the Steelers go after C.J. Mosley?
ANSWER: I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which the Baltimore Ravens allow C.J. Mosley to escape their starting defensive lineup. He’s too good, and players of his caliber are too rare. There are methods in place for the Ravens to prevent Mosley from ever reaching unrestricted free agency this March, and just as an example, the franchise tag tender for linebackers in 2018 was $14.96 million. For a talent like Mosley, that’s a bargain.
SCOTT DAVES FROM BESSEMER CITY, NC: I have heard a lot about the $21 million in dead cap money if Antonio Brown gets traded. Does that mean they simply cannot spend that money but keep it in the organization?
ANSWER: Look at it this way: Let’s pretend each team’s salary cap figure for 2019 turns out to be $121 million, for the sake of easy arithmetic. In that event, and if the Steelers had traded Antonio Brown, the Steelers would have a salary cap of $100 million for 2019. It’s not as though the Steelers have to cut a check and make a payment, but only that there would be less cash for them to spend on the other players on the roster.
JERRY RIES FROM MANASSAS, VA: I remember that back in the 1970s and 1980s the Steelers sometimes wore jerseys with pockets in them for cold weather games. When was the last time a Steelers player wore such a jersey?
ANSWER: That style was replaced by those muffs players now wear around their waists. Those also keep their hands warm, and it’s a much more cost-effective way of accomplishing that.
DWAYNE RUTLEDGE FROM NORTH CHARLESTON, SC: Do you think the Steelers will bring back Markus Wheaton? He is a free agent and is still young.
ANSWER: One could make the argument that because he is a young player who was cut last September and then was out of football for the rest of the 2018 season speaks volumes.
DAVE COSTELLO FROM ROSCOE, IL: Do you think the Steelers would have any interest in looking at Adam Vinatieri? I know he's 46, but he's still pretty reliable.
ANSWER: A 46-year-old kicker? Really?
RICHARD HAYNES FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM: I know when James Harrison left the Steelers it wasn't under the best of circumstances, but with Joey Porter gone, do you think there is any chance the Steelers might bring Harrison back as a linebackers coach?
ANSWER: Only if his career as a media icon falls apart.
THOMAS SCHMIDT FROM GRANDY, NC: How do you remain civil answering all of these stupid questions from people claiming to be long-time fans?
ANSWER: The repeal of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.