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Asked and Answered: July 26

LATROBE, Pa. – Let’s get to it:

H. C. PETLEY FROM CORTEZ, CO: Seeing Jack Lambert in action via that video recently posted on Steelers.com brought back a lot of fond memories. How many career interceptions did Lambert have? Which Steelers linebacker has the most career interceptions? What Steelers player has the most interceptions?

ANSWER: Jack Lambert finished his career with 28 interceptions, which still ranks 10th on the all-time franchise list. The Steelers linebacker with the most career interceptions is Jack Ham, whose 32 has him in a tie-for-eighth with Darren Perry on the all-time franchise list. The player with the most interceptions while playing for the Steelers is Mel Blount, who had 57.

HENRY FARRELL FROM GREENSBURG, PA: I know that the Steelers can use the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell next year, but it would be cost prohibitive. Can they use the transition tag on him instead, and what would be the compensation if they don't match any offer sheet he signs?

ANSWER: Yes, the Steelers could use the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell in 2019, but that tag doesn’t come with any compensation. It simply guarantees the original team a chance to match whatever offer sheet the player might sign.
KENNETH MAZAK II FROM LARGO, FL: When Le’Veon Bell signs his franchise tag do the Steelers have the option to trade him to another team and get something for him? What do they get if he leaves?

ANSWER: It is not against the rules to trade a player once he signs his franchise tag, as long as it happens before the trade deadline. But while legal, it’s not realistic because no team would give you anything that could be considered fair value in a trade for a guy who’s making $14.5 million and can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season ends. If Bell leaves as an unrestricted free agent in 2019, the Steelers could expect a third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

BILL ROSENBERGER FROM CARROLLTON, OH: Do you really think Le’Veon Bell will have the same kind of production he had last year? I would think the coaching staff would give the other running backs quite a few more touches in anticipation of Bell not being here next year. I understand the "run the wheels off him" concept, but I think it makes more sense to also prepare for the future without Bell.

ANSWER: What makes the most sense is playing the guy who helps the team win games, who can help the team compete for a championship. Coaches who spend one season preparing for what might happen in a following season often get fired before they get a chance at that “following season.” There will be plenty of time next offseason to worry about Le’Veon Bell’s replacement if that’s the way events unfold. And it’s also possible the eventual replacement for Bell isn’t on the roster yet, and so giving “the other running backs quite a few more touches in anticipation of Bell not being here” could be a moot point. And then the coach would have wasted a season and would deserve to be fired.
JONATHAN WEST FROM BEACH CITY, OH: Why haven't the owners bargained to include preseason games in the pay that players receive via their contracts? Seems to me most of the tagged players sit out until late in the preseason and then come in either out of football shape or out of sync with their teammates. It wouldn't cost the team or player anything, but everyone would be ready to go come week one.

ANSWER: Wrong, wrong, wrong. If teams paid players their salaries during the preseason, what happens if those players get cut before the start of the regular season? You think they’re going to give the money back? And since they won’t be giving the money back, it would cost the owners, because rosters during the preseason are at 90 players and rosters during the regular season are at 53 players.

DANIELLE STEINER FROM GYPSUM, CO: When listing players on the roster, how are years of experience determined? For example, T.J. Watt is going into his second year and is listed as having two years experience; Matt Galambos and Malik Golden are listed as having one year of experience; and Mason Rudolph and Terrell Edmunds are listed as rookies. Basically, what is the distinction between one and two years of experience?

ANSWER: A player is listed as going into his second NFL season if he spent his rookie season on an active roster. That’s why T.J. Watt is listed the way he is. Matt Galambos and Malik Golden are listed as having one year of experience because they spent the year in the NFL but only on the practice squad. Mason Rudolph and Terrell Edmunds are listed as rookies because this is their first year as NFL players.

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