Let’s get to it:
ANTHONY SIXTO FROM LOS ANGELES, CA: Terrell Edmunds was asked to do a lot in his rookie year. Do you expect him to have a more focused role in his second season? If so, do you expect him to step up and have much more of an impact – make more splash plays?
ANSWER: The one thing of which I am certain is that the Steelers are going to expect/need more splash plays, more takeaways from the player they picked on the first round of the 2018 draft. As for where Terrell Edmunds will be lining up in 2019, I believe that might not be determined for a while, at least until after the talent-gathering phase of this offseason is complete.
For example, if the Steelers are able to add a three-down linebacker in the draft, or if they are able to find a dime linebacker who can handle a wide variety of coverage assignments, or if some player already on their roster emerges as someone capable of filling that role, then I could see Edmunds lining up at strong safety almost exclusively. But if not, and it becomes evident Edmunds is the best option for that role, then I see the coaching staff doing what’s necessary with the personnel on hand to get guys in the best spots to help the team win. If that means Edmunds lines up at one position on first and second downs, and then at another position on third downs and/or in the sub-packages, then so be it.
BRIAN MORELLA FROM POLAND, OH: How was Kansas City able to trade Dee Ford, who was franchise tagged, while the Steelers couldn’t trade Le’Veon Bell?
ANSWER: Because Dee Ford signed the tag to allow the Chiefs to trade him. Because as everyone should know by now: you cannot trade an unsigned player, and Le’Veon Bell was unsigned.
GREG PARSONS FROM JACKSON, NJ: Regarding Ryan Shazier's contract, you wrote that he will be on the Steelers' roster and will be paid a salary commensurate with his years of service in the NFL. Does this mean that his salary will count toward the salary cap?
PAUL WOODARD FROM BOONEVILLE, AR: I know Alex Collins has been released by the Ravens, but is there any interest by the Steelers? Possibly get him at a reduced price to complement James Connor?
ANSWER: Jaylen Samuels is a fine complement to James Conner.
ROY PATRICK FROM LAKE CHARLES, LA: Now that Steven Nelson has been signed, a need for a cornerback is not as urgent. But with Jesse James leaving as an unrestricted free agent, do you believe the Steelers would consider using one of their top picks for a tight end?
ANSWER: The Steelers might consider it, but I have two words for you: Defensive Playmakers.
TODD FURST FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: You confirmed that the Steelers will carry over the $14 million from Le’Veon Bell onto this year’s salary cap. Just to confirm, does that mean the Steelers have $14 million less to spend within their cap this year?
ANSWER: Not less. More.
HAL TROLLER FROM ROCKY MOUNT, VA: Can you give us your feelings on Brian Allen and his progress?
ANSWER: I answered a very similar question that was posed by Richard Faber for the Feb 26 installment of Asked and Answered. Because the secondary is of significant interest right now, I’ll repeat what I wrote back in late February: “The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine begins tomorrow, and it was here in 2017 that Brian Allen measured 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.34 in the shuttle, a 6.64 in the three-cone drill, and posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump. Decent enough numbers for a cornerback, even though he hadn’t played the position full-time until he already was in college at Utah, and so the Steelers spent a fifth-round pick on him. An intriguing prospect because of his measurables, Allen has yet to break through enough to earn significant playing time for a team still trying to upgrade itself at his position. Because of his height/length, Allen first was seen as an outside cornerback, but even after Artie Burns lost his starting job, Allen couldn’t crack the lineup on defense. As a result, maybe he gets tried some at safety this offseason. In fact, he played a total of 98 snaps in the six 2018 regular season games for which he was active, but all of those snaps came on special teams. Allen is signed through the 2019 season, which means this summer – both in Latrobe and during the preseason – will be critical to him, because if he still is unable to get onto the field on defense it’s unlikely he would get a second contract from the Steelers.”
DEREK LAKE FROM BUSHNELL, FL: The Steelers offered more money to Le’Veon Bell than he received from the Jets. If the Steelers wanted to, could they say, “We will pay you the same thing if you stay with the Steelers.” I’m assuming that’s what the Vikings and Anthony Barr did to the Jets.
ANSWER: Could they? Yes, as long as it was before Le’Veon Bell signed the Jets contract. Did they? No.
JAMES LESKO FROM NAZARETH, PA: Do the Steelers have any control over Le’Veon Bell at this time?
STEPHEN BOYD FROM BRILLIANT, OH: With the Browns acquiring wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade, does that change the Steelers draft picks?
ANSWER: Change? No, more like emphasize, because as I’ve mentioned over and over and over again, my theme for this Steelers draft is: Defensive Playmakers.
MICHAEL WELLS FROM DELAWARE, OH: Do you think the Browns will be the favorite to win the AFC North this coming season?
ANSWER: I hope so. I hope they’re the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Maybe Sports Illustrated will pick them to win the Super Bowl, as the magazine did in 1995 after the Browns made the a big splash in free agency by signing wide receiver Andre Rison. Remember how that worked out? Less than six month later, they were the Baltimore Ravens.
CARLOS DE LA GARZA FROM NUEVO LEÓN, MÉXICO: What do you think about a duo of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chris Conley? Or JuJu and Hakeem Butler? It sounds pretty good, no?
ANSWER: Not that the Steelers won’t, or shouldn’t, add to the wide receiver position, but I think JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington have a chance to make some pretty sweet music themselves.
MARCO SILVEIRA FROM SEEKONK, MA: Is it possible that the Steelers could move up to draft D.K. Metcalf even though they have had success drafting wide receivers in later rounds. Also, with JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, could they go get a veteran like Dez Bryant?
ANSWER: So, as part of the same offseason when the Steelers rid themselves of one diva supreme, you want them to add another in Dez Bryant, who tore an Achilles tendon in early November, by the way. As for the draft, read my lips: Defensive Playmakers.
KEVIN SUNDE FROM MOREHEAD, KY: The Steelers are tolling Ryan Shazier's contract for 2019. Does his salary count against the salary cap and does he occupy a slot on the 53-man roster?
ANSWER: Yes, Ryan Shazier’s salary will count on the Steelers’ 2019 salary cap, and right now he occupies a spot on the 90-man roster. When training camp opens, Shazier will be placed on the physically unable to perform list, which is where he is likely to remain through the end of the season.
CRAIG MAYLE FROM PROVO, UT: Are fans dramatically misunderstanding in their assumption that the Steelers are severely limited in terms of cap space by keeping Ryan Shazier?
ANSWER: Without getting into the specific dollar numbers, the Steelers made a move in 2018 that allows them to do the right thing with Ryan Shazier without crippling themselves under the salary cap. Where fans are dramatically wrong is in their assumption that the team’s front office doesn’t know what it’s doing.
ANTHONY BROWN FROM KETTERING, OH: I know how the Steelers always don’t have much salary cap space every year has there ever been a year when the team had a ton of cap space to use up? Or weren’t pinching pennies for players?
ANSWER: What I find amusing/aggravating every spring is how people write in and claim to be long-time die-hard Steelers fans and then complain about their lack of interest in signing big-money free agents. Have those people not been paying attention? One last time: The Steelers don’t believe in using free agency as a method of roster building. So far this offseason, the Steelers have re-signed Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster; they are planning an extension for Ben Roethlisberger, which isn’t going to be cheap. They have agreed to terms with Anthony Chickillo who turned down the Patriots to return to the Steelers, by the way; and they all but locked up B.J. Finney with a restricted free agent tender. The Steelers spend to the cap every year. That penny-pinching stuff is garbage.
SAUL RINCON FROM OAKDALE, CA: Would you draft Trace McSorley if he is available in the fifth round?
ANSWER: Draft him to do what? I’m serious. The Steelers already have three quarterbacks plus Brogan Roback as the fourth for training camp. Trace McSorley refused to do defensive back drills at the Combine because he wanted to focus on quarterback. So, that brings me back to: draft him to do what?
ANDY ANDERSON FROM ROANOKE, VA: So what you're saying, if I read between the lines correctly, is that old, subpar free agents aren't in the Pittsburgh Steelers' plans?
ANSWER: Neither are the overpriced ones.