Let’s get to it:
BILL SPANEL FROM NEW PALESTINE, IN:
Do you have a date when the training camp practice schedule at Saint Vincent College will be released?
ANSWER: The complete training camp schedule, including the dates for Friday Night Lights and Family Fest, should be released some time in early June. Your first and most complete look at that schedule will be on Steelers.com, so stay tuned.
STEPHEN SCHRADER FROM PORTLAND, OR:
Do you know why Bill Cowher is not coaching in the NFL? Since he left the Steelers to join CBS, I haven't seen many coaches on his level.
ANSWER: If Bill Cowher wanted to be coaching in the NFL, he could be, and I believe he could pretty much have his pick of available jobs. He has made the choice to stick with CBS.
DUSTY WILSON FROM ODON, IN:
Pertaining to the headline: “The Steelers have agreed to terms with 13 rookie free agents,” what are the “terms” they agree to with a rookie free agent?
ANSWER: The sides agreeing to the “terms” of a contract means that the contract hasn’t officially been signed yet, that the process of putting name-on-paper has yet to happen even though the team and the player and/or his representative have come to an agreement on the length and money to be paid. This is often the case when the player lives in a different state than the team is located, or when the documents have been sent to be signed but have not yet been returned.
TERRY HALDEN FROM LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA, CANADA:
With the Martavis Bryant trade to Oakland, how much did his salary free up for the Steelers to use this year?
ANSWER: Martavis Bryant, in 2018, was to play under the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2014, a contract that was tolled because of the one-year suspension he served for violating the league’s drug policy. At the time of signing, his fourth-year salary would have been in the neighborhood of $690,000. But escalators in the deal based on playing time over the first three years was going to put his 2018 salary at $1.907 million. That was what Bryant was going to earn with the Steelers in 2018, and that’s what he will earn with the Raiders following the trade. Because the Steelers will replace Bryant with another player, and because the rookie minimum for 2018 is $480,000, the most the Steelers will save in salary cap space by trading Bryant is $1.427 million.
MIKE WALTER FROM BUTLER, PA:
My question is about two former Steelers players – Jarvis Jones and Senquez Golson. Is either player still in the NFL?
ANSWER: Senquez Golson is on the Oakland Raiders roster. Jarvis Jones currently is not on an NFL roster.
MIKE FOSTER FROM EWA BEACH, HI:
Did everyone forget about Nat Berhe? Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmonds, and Marcus Allen are often mentioned as safeties along with the incumbent Sean Davis, but Nat Berhe is omitted. Why is “The Missile” missing?
Also, I am curious as to why the Steelers only used 23 out of 30 chances to visit with players at their facility prior to the draft during the pre-draft visit period. Is it true they only used 77 percent of their visits? Do you know why they didn't use all 30?
ANSWER: On the subject of Nat Berhe, my perception of the situation is that if he makes the roster in 2018 it will be because of what he contributes on special teams. Very much similar to what Robert Golden faced each training camp.
As for the pre-draft visits, this is how General Manager Kevin Colbert addressed that issue in a news conference on the Monday before the draft:
“I am sure somebody is going to ask, ‘Well you only had 23 (prospects) in to visit,’ and that’s true, but we went into this spring with really the focus of, let’s make sure we don’t just bring in kids to hit 30. We wanted to make sure we were diligent about selecting those, because when you do those interviews it is usually during your meetings and it takes (people) away from your meetings. So, we wanted to make sure the ones we did were actually the most important. The kids at Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, and kids from local residences don’t count against that number. Then at the college pro days, between Coach Tomlin and myself, or together, we probably interviewed about 20 kids at least the night before their pro days and got to meet them and spend more time with them. In some cases, (we also) met some family members, so that part is always very important for where we are when we are trying to make these decisions.”
TODD MCCANDLESS FROM ST. LOUIS, MO:
Whatever happened to Terrell Watson?
ANSWER: Terrell Watson, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound running back who spent part of the 2017 season on the Steelers 53-man roster and then on the practice squad, signed a futures contract with the New York Giants on Jan. 26, 2018.
GENT RIVER FROM FT. MCCOY, FL:
In the situation of the practice squad: An eligible player first must be waived by a team, then remain on waivers for 24 hours before making it onto the team’s practice squad. Is there anything that would allow a player to decline going to another team knowing all the risks? For instance, a player feels strongly about making it onto one team or not playing football at all.
ANSWER: First of all, only non-vested players are waived and then subject to the waiver wire. Vested veterans are released and then are able to sign with any team of their choosing that is interested. If a waived player is claimed during the waiver period, that player has two choices: Go to the team that claimed him or don’t play. It’s very simple and straightforward, with no real other options for that player. Once a player becomes a vested veteran, he is afforded more choices and can pick and choose, but until then his freedom is limited.
LUKE ARTLEY FROM YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND:
In answering a question about the team’s safeties, I believe you said it would be unlikely for the Steelers to have more than five on the 53-man roster. On average, how man cornerbacks would a team generally have on the roster? I'm a big fan of Mike Hilton and am trying to work out his chances of cementing a regular spot with the Steelers.
ANSWER: Often, a team will make a decision on how many defensive backs, meaning safeties plus cornerbacks, to keep on its initial 53-man roster, and that number can be as low as eight and as high as 11. At this early stage of the process, and understanding that so many things can change between now and the end of August when rosters have to be cut to 53, I would guess the Steelers would keep 10 defensive backs. Maybe 11 this year, if there is to be more multiple-safety personnel groupings. If they do keep 11, my guess would be five safeties and six cornerbacks; if it’s 10, it could be five and five, or four and six. It’s all guesswork at this point.
BILL DOWDELL FROM COCOA BEACH, FL:
Curious about the undrafted rookies signed immediately after the draft. How do the Steelers go about figuring out who they are going to call to try to bring in, and do these kids have any prior notice? Is that legal to do, from a league perspective?
ANSWER: Usually, once the draft progresses into the seventh round, teams will delegate some members of their personnel departments to start calling players they believe might go undrafted to gauge their interest in signing. During the evaluation/grading process, a team will determine players they expect to go undrafted, and then it will either add or subtract from that list based how the draft unfolded. And it’s perfectly legal to contact prospective signings in advance.