Let’s get to it:
RONALD DOUGLAS FROM ROCKFORD, IL: Benny Snell had a great game against the Chargers. That is the most playing time he has had all season. Will he start getting more playing time now?
ANSWER: When the regular season opened, Benny Snell was a special teams player and the No. 3 running back, behind James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. Snell’s willingness to embrace special teams, to learn it, and to give it 100 percent effort is what got him a helmet on game days. For a while, all Snell did was play special teams, but he made himself valuable enough on those units to dress for every game, and then when Jaylen Samuels injured a knee it was just a natural promotion for Snell to become Conner’s backup. Snell took advantage of the opportunity with 75 yards on 17 carries (4.4 average) against the Chargers, and the law of the NFL is that those who do well with the opportunities given are bound to get more opportunities.
JOHN ROEBUCK FROM ALTOONA, PA: Can the Steelers release Donte Moncrief, regain their third-round compensatory draft pick, and then re-sign him without losing that pick again?
ANSWER: Ignoring for a moment the fact the Steelers never have made personnel moves based on what might happen the following year when compensatory draft picks are awarded, the scenario you propose would not come without a hit to the salary cap I’m unsure the Steelers would be able and/or willing to absorb. Cutting a player who received a signing bonus means the unamortized portion of that signing bonus is applied immediately to the cap in the form of “dead money.” Also, a vested veteran who was on the team’s opening day roster is entitled to his entire salary for that season whether he’s on the roster for the entire season or not. And then finally, replacing that player on the roster would be an additional charge to the salary cap. Add it all up, and the answer to your question is: The cutting/re-signing you propose won’t happen.
JACK KINCAID FROM MASSILLON, OH: Touché', Bob. I had written you twice over the past three years complaining about the Steelers not using the quarterback sneak. My last email, two weeks ago, I went so far as to say that in my 40 years of watching football I've never seen a quarterback hurt or lose time to an injury on a quarterback sneak. And then it happened when Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes dislocated his kneecap on a quarterback sneak. And unfortunately, he is on my fantasy team. I jinxed him. I promise Bob, no more quarterback sneak emails from me.
ANSWER: Estimates are that the dislocated kneecap could sideline Patrick Mahomes from anywhere from three-to-six weeks, and it comes at a time in the season when his team is trying to get itself into position for postseason perks such as homefield advantage and/or a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
NICHOLAS MOSES FROM SIMI VALLEY, CA: The Steelers are hopeful that Mason Rudolph is the quarterback of the future. Realistically, what would he have to do the rest of the way to be considered the starter next year irrespective of Ben Roethlisberger's recovery? In other words, take the job the way Ben did from Tommy Maddox, or Tom Brady did from Drew Bledsoe?
ANSWER: Realistically? And that’s your word. I do not see a realistic path for Mason Rudolph to take the starting quarterback job from a healthy Ben Roethlisberger in 2020. But since this seems to be an installment of Asked and Answered reserved for ridiculous hypotheticals, blatant assumptions, and outright guessing, here’s a scenario: Win the Super Bowl and be voted the MVP of the game. And just to be clear, I never have heard anyone in the upper management levels of the Steelers organization express the opinion that Mason Rudolph was drafted to succeed Ben Roethlisberger.
KEITH MITCHELL FROM BRADDOCK, PA: Are the Steelers making any trades before the trade deadline?
ANSWER: Highly, highly unlikely.
MIKE MARIC FROM VERNON, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: I am going to assume Donte Moncrief gets cut before Week 10 in order to save money and probably get a fifth or sixth-round compensatory pick as a result. If that happens, do you see a practice squad player that is ready to make the game day roster or do they bring back Eli Rogers instead?
ANSWER: So, you’re going to make an assumption, then pose me a hypothetical question based on that assumption, and expect an answer to that? Did you write this at night during a full moon?
BILL PALAICH FROM CLERMONT, FL: It looks like the Steelers will need to get past Baltimore if we are going to have any shot at the AFC North title. Do you think a sweep of the Ravens will be required and what do the Steelers need to do in those games based on the body of work the Ravens have shown this season?
ANSWER: Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Ravens beat the Steelers, 26-23, in overtime on Oct. 6 at Heinz Field, so there is no chance for a home-and-home sweep in 2019.
MITCHEL FALKSTROM FROM CALAUAN LAGUNA, PHILIPPINES: I believe that the Steelers have some tough choices ahead of them for the 2020 season. We will be a salary cap strapped team. I think we should cut the following players at the most advantageous time for the organization: Ryan Shazier, Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Sean Davis, Joe Haden, Donte Moncrief, and Vince Williams. The reasoning: The Steelers have been a stand up organization in the handling of the Ryan Shazier injury. In the case of Ben Roethlisberger, no one is ever the same after major elbow surgery and odds are he will never recover his velocity throwing the ball at his age. Pouncey, Haden, and Foster are aging veterans who can be replaced with depth and drafting at a much lower pay scale without a huge drop in talent. Davis has never lived up to expectations. Moncrief has been a bust. How much space would a major cutting of players like this give the Steelers if done at a time best serving the organization? That all being said, I love any player who wears a Steelers uniform and have great love for our lifetime players.
ANSWER: My only response to this is that with Halloween exactly one week away, Happy Halloween. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to cite a different faux holiday. Happy April Fool’s Day. Because you have to be pulling my leg.