Let’s get to it:
ELIO GAROFALO FROM HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA:
Has the Steeler organization ever considered placing another team logo on the other side of the helmet?
ANSWER: No. Not only is having a logo only on the right side of the helmet a part of franchise history, it also serves to make Steelers helmets a unique conversation piece across generations of football fans.
CHRIS GALLOWAY FROM FATE, TX:
Are L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell still eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: Yes, but since their careers ended more than 25 years ago, they only are eligible as seniors candidates.
LUTHER DAVIS FROM LONGVIEW, TX:
Le’Veon Bell is the most complete back in the league, and I hope he is going to sign a new contract. With little salary cap space available, are we going to sign Joe Harden back?
ANSWER: The Steelers don’t have to sign Joe Haden this offseason. He is under contract to the team for two more years, through the 2019 season.
BRUCE PETERSON FROM WARWICK, NY:
It looks like Chris Hubbard will be a cap casualty. Would it make sense to sign him and trade another lineman, like Marcus Gilbert to get some value? Maybe for a third or a fourth-round pick? This way they get something than rather let him walk.
ANSWER: Chris Hubbard is a valuable part of a 53-man roster, but he’s not a Marcus Gilbert-level player, and since you cannot get another Marcus Gilbert on the third round of a draft, it doesn’t make any sense to make that kind of a trade. And Hubbard is an unrestricted free agent. He wouldn’t be a cap casualty.
BOB HESS FROM MOUNTAIN TOP, PA:
In your opinion, do you feel that Josh Dobbs will be a future starter for the Steelers?
ANSWER: Ben Roethlisberger is telling teammates he would like to play for three more seasons. Based on that, Dobbs will hit free agency before the job is even available. Right now, Dobbs looks more like the kind of player who could be an eventual successor to Landry Jones as the No. 2 quarterback.
DRAYTON PETERSON FROM HAGERSTOWN, MD:
It would be expected that a player would have to disclose medical conditions that could affect performance. Is there a line? Some conditions are private and don’t need to be reported. What happens in the offseason stays in the offseason? And are these conditions reported to the league office and made public? Kind of wondering where the players privacy comes in to play?
ANSWER: Players coming into the league are given complete physicals and drug tested, and once in the league, you cannot seriously be suggesting that a player who breaks an arm or otherwise sustains an injury during the offseason be able to conceal that injury from the team? And even if they attempted to conceal something, it would show up in the complete physical each player is given at the start of each training camp.
SCOT HICKERSON FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM:
I am a Landry Jones fan. Do you think the Steelers will trade Landry this year? Ben Roethlisberger said he is playing three more years. Landry has one year left on his current contract. There is no way Landry signs for another two years. Landry can be a top 10 quarterback if given the chance to start.
ANSWER: Why wouldn’t Landry Jones sign another contract with the Steelers? He’s not a starter, but he’s on a good team, he has a defined role that’s a significant one, he knows the system, he is familiar with the talent on hand, and management is comfortable with him. His current contract with the Steelers pays him a reported $2.2 million a year, which isn’t bad money. I believe Landry Jones would be wise to continue to pursue a career as a No. 2 quarterback, because I see him being able to fill that role for a long time and make a lot of money. And understand this: the No. 2 quarterback job with the Steelers is his, regardless of fan perception. Josh Dobbs was drafted as a hedge against Jones possibly leaving, not necessarily as a guy who will replace him at some predetermined time in the future.
DAVE DANIEL FROM ALBANY, NY:
In your Thursday Asked and Answered you stated that if a player who has been assigned the franchise tag signs with another team, that team would have to give up two first-round draft picks. First, I'm under the impression that tagged players cannot negotiate with other teams, unless given permission. Is that true? Also, is the two first-round pick rule hard and fast, or is that negotiable? Meaning, for example, if a team negotiated a deal with Le’Veon Bell but only wanted to give a No. 1 and a No. 3, could the Steelers accept?
ANSWER: For simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend the Steelers want to put a franchise tag on me. There are two types of franchise tags – the exclusive franchise tag and the non-exclusive franchise tag. If they use the exclusive franchise tag on me, then I cannot negotiate with any other team. The exclusive franchise tag costs the team more in salary, and it was what the Steelers used last year on Le’Veon Bell.
If the Steelers place the non-exclusive franchise tag on me, I am free to negotiate with any other team, and if some other team presents me with an offer sheet that I decide to accept and then sign, the Steelers have seven days to match the offer and keep me, or let me go to the other team and receive two No. 1 picks as compensation. Those No. 1 picks can be in consecutive drafts, but the level of compensation is non-negotiable. It’s a specific requirement based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
FRANK BIGLER FROM SWEET VALLEY, PA:
Obi Melifonwu for free safety? He can play like a receiver yet hit like a linebacker.
ANSWER: I have no idea what the Raiders’ plans are for Obi Melifonwu. He is under contract to Oakland through the 2020 season.
BOB RUSSAK FROM HASTINGS, NY:
If a player is placed on the injured reserve list prior to the start of a season, does his salary count against the cap ?
DAVY ADAMUSKO FROM KEY LARGO, FL:
Please give us a definition of the various contracts that you mention when updating the status of Steelers players: unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents, exclusive rights free agents, and reserve/future contracts.
ANSWER: Unrestricted free agents (UFAs) are players with expired contracts who have completed four or more seasons of service in the NFL. They are free to sign with any franchise.
A restricted free agent (RFA) is a player who has completed three seasons of service in the NFL, and who has received a "qualifying" tender offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement) from his current club. He can negotiate with any club through a certain date, which this year is April 20. If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club has "right of first refusal," a five-day period in which it may match the offer and retain him, or choose not to match the offer, in which case it may receive one or more draft picks for the upcoming draft from the player's new club. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player's rights revert to his old club, this year on April 21.
Exclusive rights free agents (EFAs) are players with fewer than three seasons in the NFL. Those players have no negotiating rights and must sign for whatever amount their current club offers.
When a player is signed to a reserve/futures contract that means they are being signed for the upcoming season. It's typically a one- or two-year deal at the league minimum based on number of years of experience in the NFL.
VINCENT DIMASCIO FROM BINGHAMTON, NY:
As is every diehard Steelers fan, I am disappointed but my disappointment is not that we didn’t reach our goal. It is more that another wonderful season is over. And I say a wonderful season because it allows me and my sons to enjoy game days together, and this year we even made it to Heinz Field, an experience I will never forget. I do not believe for one minute the Steelers took Jacksonville lightly. I may question decisions at times, but I do believe Mike Tomlin does what he feels is best for the team. I want to thank the organization and the players for the few hours each week that allowed me to get away from the grind and enjoy some memorable family time together.
ANSWER: I also was introduced to live sporting events by my Dad, and I still remember the occasions when he would take me to Forbes Field for a baseball game, or to Pitt Stadium for either a college football game or to see the Steelers play, or to the Civic Arena for college basketball. At the time, the outcomes of those games were very important, but I honestly cannot remember a single score of any of them today. But I do appreciate the effort and time my Dad put into those afternoons/nights we spent together bonding over sports, and I love him for it.
MATT CRUMP FROM JACKSONVILLE, FL:
I've been a Steelers fan for as long as I can remember, and recently a bakery down here in Jacksonville sent turnovers to Heinz Field for Ben Roethlisberger. I personally know the owners of the bakery, and they make some darn good stuff. So I was just wondering if anyone ate those delicious turnovers? If anyone did, I can tell them thank you for you.
ANSWER: While I heard rumors of baked goods making their way from Jacksonville to Pittsburgh, I never saw/tasted anything first-hand. And before I would be able to provide a thorough and thoughtful appraisal of said baked goods to the readers of Asked and Answered, I would feel an obligation to test them with my own experienced taste buds. Packages can be mailed to those taste buds at: Bob Labriola, 3400 S. Water St., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15203.