Let's get to it:
JASON PITCHER FROM PONTEFRACT, UK: I've been a Steelers fan for 30 years. Are they likely to retire jersey No. 7?
ANSWER: The Steelers have retired only two numbers in franchise history: Ernie Stautner's No. 70 in 1964 and Joe Greene's No. 75 in 2014, 50 years later. As this shows, the franchise isn't big on retiring jerseys, and my personal belief is some of their trepidation involves the number of great players, Hall of Fame players, players who have their fingerprints all over multiple Lombardi trophies, and as a result it is very difficult to decide which jerseys to retire. Or to put it differently, it's very difficult to decide which jerseys don't get retired. I believe to some extent the Rooney family – Art Sr., Dan, and now Art II – have come to view their Hall of Fame, championship winning players almost like their children in the sense that you love them all equally. I also see that as a driving reason behind the team's creation of its Hall of Honor.
BRUNO CONTORCHICK FROM YORK, PA: If Bud Carson was the Steelers defensive coordinator during the years 1972-1977, what was George Perles' job during that time?
ANSWER: During the years that Bud Carson was the defensive coordinator under Chuck Noll, George Perles was the team's defensive line coach.
SAM JONES FROM CRYSTAL LAKE, IL: Several years ago, your stock answer to any question about Ben Roethlisberger's successor was, "He's still in high school." Where is Ben's successor now?
ANSWER: Don't be shocked if he's already on the roster.
BRIAN MILLER FROM BRISTOL , TN: I realize that Corliss Waitman has punted only seven times so far, but his average and net average are pretty good. Does he have a shot at making the roster for next year?
ANSWER: You have to understand there is no possible way to give you a reasoned answer to that question. The only thing I can tell you now – with the 2021 regular season not over yet, with the first day of the 2022 league year still two months away, and the start of the offseason program a couple of months farther into the future than that, and the start of training camp maybe a couple of months after that, and the roster cut-down to 53 at least a month after that – is that over the previous two weeks Corliss Waitman hasn't done anything to hurt his chances of being on an NFL roster in 2022. Whether that ends up being the Steelers roster, I believe, will also depend on Pressley Harvin, because Harvin would have to lose the job as much as Waitman would have to win it.
COLT MACK FROM JACKSON, MS: I think that last regular season game at Heinz Field for Ben Roethlisberger on Jan. 2 was one of the best things I have seen in sports in a long time. The mark he left on Pittsburgh deserves to be made permanent. Do you see them ever erecting a statue for him outside the stadium?
ANSWER: A statue? C'mon, really? Dan Rooney. Joe Greene. Chuck Noll. With all due respect to Ben Roethlisberger and the contributions he has made to the Steelers franchise, and his status as a deserving first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, any one of only the three names I mentioned had a much more significant, historical impact on the franchise. Let's just appreciate Roethlisberger and remember him fondly and be there to celebrate him when he becomes a first ballot Hall of Fame selection. But please, some perspective. No more statues.
DAN BRODEUR FROM SUGARLOAF, PA: With Ben Roethlisberger set to retire and Mason Rudolph being the next man up, do you think the Steelers may entertain negotiating with the Giants for Daniel Jones. The media is reporting that the Giants may be interested in parting ways with Jones. I know he has been sidelined with injuries, but I can't help but think what he could do with our young receivers if he stays healthy.
ANSWER: In the wake of last Monday night's game vs. the Browns and how things unfolded essentially to confirm that 2021 will be Ben Roethlisberger's final NFL season, I began preparing myself for the onslaught of ideas/suggestions from fans as to how the Steelers now should proceed at the position. But I've got to hand it to you: Daniel Jones, in my opinion, is the most uniquely ridiculous idea presented to this point. If "the media is reporting that the Giants may be interested in parting ways with Jones," there are two more plausible reasons for his divorce from the Giants than injuries, such as some level of recognition that spending the sixth overall pick of the 2019 draft on him was a mistake; and the fact the Giants have until early May 2022 to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie contract at an amount of $21.3 million guaranteed. Let's pretend the Steelers chose to follow your advice. That would leave them with no chance to see Jones in even a preseason game before having to decide whether to guarantee him more money than Ben Roethlisberger earned in 2021 or allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in March 2023. Ridiculous on so many different levels.
DANA FISHER FROM ROCKPORT, ME: Is there a chance that the Steelers would move Kendrick Green back to his more natural position of guard, and either go with J.C. Hassenauer at center, or draft a true center? If Tyler Linderbaum from Iowa fell to them for example?
ANSWER: Is there a chance? Never say never, and since this isn't about whether Mike Tomlin would be interested in a college coaching job, there is a chance. But that doesn't mean it's likely. I believe the Steelers aren't about to give up so quickly on the idea of Kendrick Green being a center, and certainly not before Green has had an offseason to work on the things that emerged as weaknesses in his game during his rookie season. The Steelers had to know there would be a learning curve for Green, both in terms of adapting to the NFL and also in adapting to the switch from guard to center. Giving up on all of that after only one year to go through the process all over again with another rookie center is treading water instead of moving forward.
SKIP VOGELSBERGER FROM HUDSON, OH: Tyler Huntley looks like a promising young quarterback that the Steelers could certainly use. Is there any chance that could happen, or does he have a long term contract with the Ravens?
ANSWER: What is it with these "is there a chance" questions? There's a chance I could hit the Powerball and fly off to Maui in a private plane for a lifetime of leisure with my wife, but I'm not going to base my retirement plan on it. Yes, Tyler Huntley looks like a promising young quarterback, but I would suggest to you that the Baltimore Ravens recognize that as well. There even "is a chance" the Ravens could decide Huntley is a cheaper-but-comparable option to Lamar Jackson, in which case they would make every effort to re-sign him to a long-term deal and make him their starter. And I would think Huntley would see that as a better opportunity than going to another team and having to start all over and compete for a job. And finally, there is this: While Huntley's current contract expires after the 2021 season, because he will be entering his third NFL season in 2022 he will be an exclusive rights free agent. Being an exclusive rights free agent means the Ravens are in total control of his rights. For example, the Ravens can offer him a one-year, minimum salary contract, and Huntley's choices are to accept that and play for the Ravens or not play in the NFL. Huntley won't be eligible for unrestricted free agency until he completes his fourth NFL season, which means he is pretty much bound to the Ravens through the 2023 season.
NICK MOSES FROM SIMI VALLEY, CA: Of all the various suggestions I've heard about what the Steelers should do at quarterback going forward, I think the best is drafting a quarterback this year, signing a veteran free agent, and handing the reins to Mason Rudolph for a year or two. Your thoughts?
ANSWER: As of right now, which is still months away from when the NFL will award compensatory picks for the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers have six picks, and those picks break down this way: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 6 (from the Kansas City Chiefs), Round 7, and another pick in Round 7 from the New York Jets. My opinion is if the plan is to hand "the reins to Mason Rudolph for a year or two," then I wouldn't commit a premium draft pick and the millions of dollars it would cost to sign a veteran in the same offseason. That's too much capital to commit to one position where the plan is to start a guy who's already on the roster. Pick one or the other – draft a quarterback or sign a veteran – this offseason. That is my opinion, anyway.
PAUL LUKACS FROM VIENNA, WV: The Montravius Adams pickup from the New Orleans Saints practice squad was brilliant. How did the Steelers scout the Saints practice squad?
ANSWER: Shortly after the Steelers signed Montravius Adams, I asked Coach Mike Tomlin about how the Steelers knew about him and what it was they liked about him. This is what he said: "We liked him a lot when he came out in the draft. I went down to Auburn for his Pro Day and took him out to dinner and all of those things. And that often reflects the moves that we make in free agency or in the open market. Oftentimes we have a past relationship where there was something about him that was attractive to us. He's big and strong and athletic. When he came out (for the draft), he was somewhat raw from a technical standpoint. We realized that, and that's probably one of the reasons why he's bounced around the league a little and he was available to us. But the talent is attractive to us. It was attractive to us then. We're excited about giving him an opportunity to put his hand in the pile and contribute."