Let’s get to it:
ROBERT LONG FROM CLEARFIELD, PA: Who if anyone is officially credited with coining the phrase, “The Standard Is the Standard?”
ANSWER: There never has been any official credit assigned or sought, but I can tell you I never heard that around here until after Mike Tomlin became the head coach. It’s similar in its own way to Chuck Noll and “Whatever It Takes.”
MIKE FOSTER FROM EWA BEACH, HI: If Ben Roethlisberger were to retire due to injury, what would be the salary cap ramifications? What if he just retired? Is there a difference? What is Andrew Luck's cap hit?
ANSWER: There is no difference in the salary cap ramifications if a player simply retires as opposed to being “forced” into retirement as a result of an injury or the cumulated effect of injuries. If Ben Roethlisberger retires after the 2019 season, the Steelers would be assessed $25 million in dead cap money, but the team would not have to pay the $8 million he would be due in base salary for the 2020 season. Andrew Luck’s retirement cost the Indianapolis Colts $18.4 million in dead cap money.
CHAD ST. ESPRIT FROM NORTH PORT, FL: Do the salaries of all the coaches on the team have to fit under the salary cap? Also, if a team is fined for tampering or not being truthful on the practice report, does that fine have any implications toward a future salary cap?
ANSWER: Coaches’ salaries are not a part of a team’s salary cap, just the salaries of players on the 53-man roster, practice squad, injured reserve list, and reserve/PUP list. And fines do not typically get charged to a team’s salary cap either, unless the fine has to do with a violation of the salary cap rules.
NICK MITCHELL FROM GLEN-LYON, PA: Is Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury the same as the one Terry Bradshaw had in which we know how that worked out for him? Do you see the same thing here?
ANSWER: I do not know the medical particulars with regard to Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury vs. Terry Bradshaw’s elbow injury, but there are two things I do know: Medicine in general and orthopedic surgery in particular have advanced significantly in the 35-years since Bradshaw had surgery on his right elbow; and while Bradshaw checked into a Louisiana hospital under an assumed name and had his surgery done by a local surgeon, Roethlisberger had his surgery performed by one of the preeminent orthopedic surgeons in America.
DONALD ADAMS FROM RICHMOND, TX: Is there a maximum on the number of times a team can play in primetime? Can the Steelers be flexed into Sunday night for the games vs. the Bills or the Ravens?
ANSWER: The maximum number of times a team can be scheduled to play in primetime (when the schedules are released each April) is five, and the Steelers hit that number with their games against New England, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Chargers, Miami, and Cleveland). It also is possible for the Steelers to be flexed into primetime for a sixth game, and so that could happen to the games vs. the Bills or the Ravens, but not both.
TODD BRAUTIGAM FROM GREENSBURG, PA: Josh Gordon was put on injured reserve by the Patriots, then released. I thought once he was on injured reserve, he would not be able to play any more during this season. How is it that he can play for the Seahawks?
ANSWER: When on the injured reserve list, a player is paid the salary stipulated in his contract. Once he is healthy, the team can waive him from injured reserve, which makes the player able to get a job with another team and continue to play and get paid his salary.
ABHI HEGDE FROM BALTIMORE, MD: When Devlin Hodges started in the game against the Chargers, Paxton Lynch was on the sideline as the backup. Is he still on the 53-man roster, or has he been released?
ANSWER: Paxton Lynch remains a part of the 53-man roster, and since Mason Rudolph returned from the concussion he sustained in the game against the Ravens, Lynch has served as the No. 3 quarterback.
JACKSON SHOVER FROM STAUNTON, VA: Should we expect to see Sean Davis back anytime soon?
ANSWER: Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the possibility of Sean Davis returning from injured reserve during his news conference on Tuesday, and this was his answer: “Some of those questions you ponder as people get closer to health. The ability to move that designated-to-return status around allows you not to ask those questions. You just wait for health to present itself and then make judgments accordingly, whether it’s Sean or other people.” The acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick eliminates any urgency in bringing Sean Davis back from the shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve in the first place.
SHIMON MAZA-WILLIAMS FROM SUFFOLK, VA: With Mason Rudolph not showing progress during games, will Devlin Hodges get a chance to start?
ANSWER: I can assure you that your assessment of Mason Rudolph is not shared by any of the decision-makers working for the Steelers, and I don’t believe Devlin Hodges will start any more games this season, barring injury.
RYAN KAHLE FROM OTTAWA, OH: With the in-game announcements of Zack Banner as an eligible receiver being greeted by loud cheers at Heinz Field, are we ever going to use him in the passing game? Or even move Al Villanueva out to his previous college position as a tight end, occasionally a wide receiver, too?
ANSWER: We might have to wait until Dez Bryant is signed and develops a role in the offense before getting Zach Banner and Al Villanueva involved in the passing attack. Patience.
JOHN HOLEN FROM WILKES BARRE, PA: Since Dez Bryant is still a free agent, do you think he would be a good fit for the Steelers? I think having a veteran wide receiver who was elite in his prime can really help this offense. I know he’s not the same player he was, but he can be a reliable option and can help get some of the double coverage off JuJu Smith-Schuster. Do you think he would be someone the Steelers would even consider?
ANSWER: It will depend on whether Zach Banner can take the top off the coverage on those tight-end-up-the-seam routes, and how long it takes Al Villanueva to get his timing down with Mason Rudolph on those out-routes to the first down marker.
RICHARD FENSTERBUSH FROM BELLEVILLE, IL: Would Coach Mike Tomlin consider playing Minkah Fitzpatrick both ways? He catches passes that are not intended for him. What could he do with passes thrown to him?
ANSWER: Only if Dez Bryant, Zach Banner, and Al Villanueva sign off on sharing snaps at wide receiver with him.