Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 19

Let's get to it:

ED HOLLINGER FROM MINNEAPOLIS, MN:
Paul Krause was not the last safety enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ronnie Lott was part of the Class of 2000.

The exact wording I used was, "The last pure safety to be enshrined in Canton was Paul Krause, still the NFL's all-time leader in interceptions with 81." Ronnie Lott began his career as a cornerback, and during his four seasons at that position he played in four Pro Bowls and was voted first-team All-Pro once. Since Lott played another position, and did it very well, he isn't a "pure safety." That was the distinction I was making.

MATT MANLEY FROM OLD BRIDGE, N.J.:
How do you expect the linebacker corps to look when it's all settled? Bud Dupree, Shawn Lemon, James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, and Arthur Moats? Does Dupree get the starting job over Jones?

This is what I would call a crystal ball question, i.e., a question that requires seeing into the future, and the answers to those most often have to be guesses because there's no way to have any real idea this early in the process. But I'll play along in this instance. Bud Dupree and Arthur Moats, plus Anthony Chickillo and Lemon are left outside linebackers, while Jarvis Jones, Harrison, and Howard Jones are right outside linebackers. For now, anyway, and I say this with the understanding that things can change as training camp unfolds and injuries happen, etc. Outside linebackers coach Joey Porter already has said that Harrison's role this season will have him on the field for maybe 25 plays a game, and so that indicates the coaches don't see him as a starter. Jarvis Jones is going to be the starter on the right side, and I would imagine Moats would open the season as the starter on the left side, with the hope being that Dupree will develop quickly and be a real contributor by Thanksgiving. Those four guys – Jarvis Jones, Moats, Harrison, and Dupree – can be expected to see the most playing time, with Lemon, Howard Jones, and Chickillo first having to show they belong on an NFL roster.

LEN FULMER FROM MIDLAND CITY, AL:
What about our quarterback depth? Ben Roethlisberger is very tough and has been very durable but should he be injured do you think we have a suitable backup who could lead our team to victory? Where is Landry Jones in his maturation process?

The reality of life in the NFL – at least for teams with a franchise quarterback – is that there is no such thing as depth at quarterback, at least not in the way we think about depth at other positions. The Patriots' depth at quarterback is Jimmy Garoppolo, in Denver it's Brock Osweiler, in New Orleans it's Ryan Griffin or rookie Garrett Grayson, in Dallas it's Brandon Weeden, in Green Bay it's Matt Blanchard or rookie Brett Hundley. None of those options would be a good half-a-season alternative for the player they'd be replacing. But over a short span, I believe Bruce Gradkowski is as good an option as any of those guys. As for Landry Jones, he will be going to his third training camp this summer, and in his first two preseasons his play has been unimpressive. I would think Jones still needs to show the Steelers he belongs on an NFL roster.

T.R. STOECKER FROM WORDEN, IL:
Do you think after the first round of cuts this year the Steelers might get a defensive back?

Teams are looking for defensive backs. There aren't enough good ones to fill all 32 rosters, so expecting to find a good one on the waiver wire is remote. It can happen, such as when the Jaguars saw Antwon Blake as a safety and cut him, or when a new Texans coach decides a mouthy safety named D.J. Swearinger, drafted by the previous regime, isn't worth the aggravation. The Steelers will scan the waiver wire as always – they were one of eight teams to put in a waiver claim on Swearinger, but waivers are granted based on 2014 record and so he ended up in Tampa Bay. Unless there are a bunch of injuries, I believe the defensive backs on the initial 53-man roster for the start of the regular season will be made up of some combination of players already on their offseason roster.

RICHARD BEAN FROM MEADVILLE, PA:
Why didn't the Steelers go after cornerback Kyle Arrington, who was released by the Patriots? Instead the Ravens signed him. I thought Steelers need help in the secondary? Arrington was on the winning side of Super Bowl XLIX.

Because the Seahawks opened the game with a three-receiver set, the Patriots countered with three cornerbacks, which made Kyle Arrington a starter in the Super Bowl. He had two tackles in the game, with no passes defensed or interceptions. Arrington, who will be 29 in August, has seen his production and playing time decrease significantly since he had seven interceptions in 2011. In the three seasons since 2011, Arrington had one interception and went from starting at cornerback to a role in situational football. The first thought that came to mind was: why would a Patriots team that lost cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis in free agency cut a guy who was their nickel back? My hunch is that the Patriots didn't think Arrington could play anymore, and even though Arrington isn't old he's on the backside of his career. The Steelers are trying to get younger in the secondary, and I don't believe they perceive Arrington as a guy good enough to make an exception for him. The Steelers did put in a waiver claim for D.J. Swearinger, however, and that indicates they're not opposed to adding off the waiver wire.

FRED ZANG FROM GREENE, N.Y.:
D.J. Swearinger was released by the Houston Texans, and I read the Steelers were one of eight teams interested, but Tampa Bay had first dibs through waivers. When DeAngelo Williams was released, why didn't he have to go through waivers? Or did he, and I'm just not aware of it?

Players with fewer than four accrued NFL seasons are required to go through waivers every time. As a second-round pick in 2013, D.J. Swearinger had only two accrued seasons at the time he was cut by the Texans. Players with more than four accrued NFL seasons only have to pass through waivers within a short period of time at the end of every regular season. DeAngelo Williams had more than four accrued seasons when the Panthers cut him, and so he wasn't subject to waivers. LeGarrette Blount, however, had to clear waivers last year before he could sign with the Patriots, which is an example of the late-season period when all players are subject to waivers.

WENDY LISSENDEN FROM KERNERSVILLE, NC:
No question. Just wanted to thank you for doing these. I love reading your opinions on the team. I also love the Agree to Disagree episodes with Mike Prisuta, although admittedly I preferred them when they were longer. (I think you're right most of the time, for the record.)

Thanks for being a fan of the content on Steelers.com. And you're right, Prisuta is wrong most of the time.

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