Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Jan. 7

Let's get to it:

JOE ASHER FROM TAMPA, FL: A great year for our defense, with four players being named first or second team Associated Press All-Pro. T.J. Watt was named first team as an edge rusher and second team as a linebacker. How does this count in his lifetime statistics? Is he now a "two time All-Pro?"
ANSWER: I'm sure that in some circles T.J. Watt might be listed as a two-time All-Pro because he made the same team at two different positions, but that isn't how I view it. Being designated a two-time All-Pro, to me, means the individual made the All-Pro team two different seasons, not at two different positions in the same season. I don't understand why this is allowed to happen, because while I get the effort to have the All-Pro team reflect the way the game is currently played at the NFL level – including third-down backs and slot cornerbacks and the like – but since one individual can only play one position at a time, why recognize the same individual at two different positions? Makes no sense to me. T.J. Watt forever will be a first-team All-Pro for the 2019 season, and I will recognize him as such. My personal belief is being voted first-team at one position renders any second-team recognition at a different position moot.

RICHARD KOVAL FROM BRUCETON MILLS, WV: Who are the free-agents-to-be this offseason for the Steelers? And being that there were draft picks traded, how many and in what rounds do the Steelers have picks in 2020?
ANSWER: We'll start with the list of free agents: The unrestricted free-agents-to-be are Artie Burns, Sean Davis, Bud Dupree, B.J. Finney, Javon Hargrave, Tyler Matakevich, Nick Vannett, and L.T. Walton. As for the draft picks – and this list does not include compensatory picks, which usually are awarded in late March – the Steelers have no pick in the first round; their own pick in the second round; no pick in the third round; two picks in the fourth round – Miami's and their own; no pick in the fifth round; their own pick in the sixth round; and their own pick in the seventh round.

MARK FILAK FROM PLANO, TX: Let's assume the Ravens win the Super Bowl. An obvious attractive opening game in 2020 would be Steelers vs. Ravens, not only for the natural rivalry, but also for the return of Ben Roethlisberger from elbow surgery (hopefully). Can the NFL require the Steelers to be in that opening game two years in a row?
ANSWER: There is no rule against it, but I would think it more likely the league would go with either Dallas at Ravens, Tennessee at Ravens, or Kansas City at Ravens, because those three teams all are scheduled to visit M&T Bank Stadium for the 2020 season. The game against the Cowboys would involve Dallas' new coaching staff, the game vs. the Titans would be a rematch of the AFC Divisional Round, and the game against the Chiefs could be a rematch of the AFC Championship Game. My feeling is any or all of those would be a more attractive matchup than Steelers-Ravens, simply because it would be something different.

STEVE ANTOLIC FROM AMBRIDGE, PA: Being that the Steelers are hurting at the tight end position, why not use T.J. Watt as a tight end when we get into the red zone?
ANSWER: Because it would hurt Zach Banner's feelings.

VINCE LOBONO FROM BROOKLYN, NY: Trying to school my friend (a Jets fan). He claims Terry Bradshaw was crushed by their defense, and they were responsible for ending his career. It's been a long time since Terry's retirement but I seem to recall he had just come off major surgery, that was his first start, and he threw for two touchdowns before his arm went out and was removed by Chuck Noll and replaced by Cliff Stoudt.
ANSWER: Your memory is much better than your friend's. During the 1983 offseason, Terry Bradshaw checked into a Louisiana hospital under an alias and had surgery on his right elbow, and the aftermath of the procedure prevented him from playing at all during the 1983 season until the penultimate game of the regular season, against the Jets in their final game at Shea Stadium. Bradshaw started and completed 5-of-8 passes for 77 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions, no sacks, and a rating of 133.9. When Bradshaw's elbow couldn't take any more, he was replaced in the lineup by Cliff Stoudt, who had started all of the other games at quarterback that season. Stoudt was sacked four times by the Jets, but he also threw two touchdown passes and finished the game with a rating of 81.4. The Steelers dominated the Jets to the tune of 242 yards rushing, a plus-4 in turnover ratio, a 13:40 edge in time of possession, and left with a 34-7 victory. Maybe your friend was thinking about what the Steelers defense did to Jets quarterbacks Richard Todd and Pat Ryan that day and got confused. Todd was 11-for-20 for 114 yards, with no touchdowns, two interceptions, three sacks, and a rating of 32.1, before being relieved by Ryan, who completed 6-of-18 for 127 yards, with one touchdown, one interception, and a rating of 54.6.

GEORGE McWILLUMS FROM KABIT, PA: During the last offseason, you made fun of me for suggesting we look for a free agent quarterback like Colin Kaepernick or Johnny Manziel. You made it clear it was nonsense. Now we see the result of having inadequate backup quarterback play. Kaepernick and Manziel, at their worst, would have been better than what we saw this year, at their best. I think I deserve an apology.
ANSWER: No, you deserve no such thing. That suggestion was nonsense then, and it's nonsense now. And based on your talent evaluation of Kaepernick or Manziel vs. Mason Rudolph, I'll sleep soundly tonight knowing you're not the Steelers GM.

MATTHEW RICHARDSON FROM MOODY, AL: In what scenario could we receive a first-round draft pick in 2020? What would be realistic scenarios and what player(s) could be used to trade for a first-round draft pick, like the time we traded former fourth-round pick Martavis Bryant for a higher pick, a third-round pick?
ANSWER: There is no realistic scenario in which the Steelers trade the kind of player from their roster who would bring back a No. 1 pick in return. None. Not going to happen, which by definition makes it unrealistic.

RICKY CHABOREK FROM WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA: The Steelers have many needs in the draft, but what about free-agent-to-be Hunter Henry from the Chargers for a depleted tight end pool? I like Vance McDonald's when he is healthy but that's not very often.
ANSWER: The Steelers don't have the kind of salary cap space that's going to allow them to get into the free agent market for premium players from other teams, which is how I would describe Hunter Henry. The Steelers' priority with their salary cap dollars is Bud Dupree, and then maybe an extension for T.J. Watt. Both of those guys are more important than a tight end.

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