Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 5

Let's get to it:

JEFF ROSBRUGH FROM AZTEC, NM: I see that Anthony McFarland and Kwon Alexander are both wearing jersey No. 26. Is this allowed for the regular season or just the preseason? And if one has to change, which player do you think will be wearing a different number for 2023?
ANSWER: Duplicate jersey numbers are permitted during the preseason as long as one player is on offense and the other is on defense, but that is not allowed during the regular season. In a story that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kwon Alexander talked about the number he wore after joining the team on Aug. 3, "It was the only one they had left. I had to rock with it until the end of preseason." As for how things will unfold come the start of the regular season, Alexander continued, "I'm just waiting on them to let me know what number's available. I'll probably get up out of the 26, let my boy AntMac (Anthony McFarland) do his thing with it. I'll try to find a 50 number or something like that. I wanted a single-digit, but they won't let defensive players be single-digit guys here. It's still old-fashioned, traditional."

UPDATE: The Steelers PR Department released a list of new players and/or players with duplicate numbers during the preseason currently on the 53-man roster or the practice squad along with their jersey numbers for the upcoming season, and Kwon Alexander was on that list:

• 21 Anthony Brown CB
• 25 Desmond King II CB
• 33 Josiah Scott CB
• 41 Qadree Ollison RB
• 44 Markus Golden OLB
• 45 Zander Horvath RB
• 49 Tariq Carpenter DB
• 54 Kwon Alexander ILB
• 72 Kellen Diesch T
• 79 Joey Fisher G
• 84 Simi Fehoko WR

THOMAS PEACOCK FROM SMITHMILL, PA: We know that the last three Steelers coaches all have won Super Bowls. With those three coaches, how many general managers did the Steelers have?
ANSWER: The first individual to carry the title of General Manager in franchise history was Kevin Colbert. That makes Omar Khan the second.

H.C. PETLEY FROM CORTEZ, FL: Over the course of the preseason numerous players on various teams are waived/injured and given a settlement. Is there a league standard for the payout or are they determined case by case subject to negotiation?
ANSWER: All of the settlements reached between agents and teams for players who are waived/injured are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Once the two sides come to an agreement, the case is assumed to be settled.

GEORGE THOMAS FROM OCALA, FL: What is the number of players who can be signed to the practice squad?
ANSWER: Sixteen.

JODY MCMULLEN FROM HASTINGS, PA: If our center suffered a practice injury missing at least one game, who would be the likely starter at center – James Daniels, Nate Herbig, or Spencer Anderson?
ANSWER: If Mason Cole were to be injured, my guess is that he would be replaced by Nate Herbig, assuming Herbig's previous shoulder injury would not be an impediment.

DAVID POWELL FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NM: In a previous Asked and Answered you said that the Steelers did not use Kendrick Green as a fullback during the preseason in order to enhance his trade value. My understanding is that he did very well at that position. Why do you think they ran the experiment?
ANSWER: To clarify, I wrote that I did not believe the Steelers worked Kendrick Green at fullback simply to enhance his trade value. As for why the Steelers tried Green at fullback, my assumption is that since training camp is the time for a team to explore some REASONABLE ways to attempt to take advantage of certain player's individual skill-set, it was an attempt to increase his value and improve the team. The way I see it is that Green ultimately wasn't good enough at fullback to keep on the 53-man roster at that position, and he wasn't good enough as an interior offensive lineman to beat out the others competing for those spots.

ERIC CARTER FROM MILTON, DE: With the new owner of the Commanders (Josh Harris) having to sell his stake in the Steelers, do you think the Rooneys would ever consider allowing fans to buy "shares" to fill that void? I'm guessing every Steelers fan in the world would jump at the chance.
ANSWER: The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL franchise where fans are allowed to buy an ownership stake, and that policy was grandfathered in a long time ago to allow that small-market city to retain its team. Currently, NFL rules prohibit an NFL team to be owned by more than 25 people, and so what you're suggesting is against the rules.

MIKE FOSTER FROM EWA BEACH, HI: Why have the Steelers signed so many players the past two years to shorter-term contracts? James Daniels, Mason Cole, Cole Holcomb signed for three years and Elandon Roberts signed for two years. The Steelers were reportedly looking to sign Bud Dupree to a two-year deal to return to the team. I know it takes two to tango and age is a factor but signing bonuses can be spread out for salary cap purposes, right?
ANSWER: Yes, signing bonuses can be spread out for salary cap purposes, but that's not the only consideration in the team and player coming to agreement on the length of a contract. Maybe a team isn't certain it wants a long-term relationship with a player and isn't interested in carrying dead money on its cap in the event a long-term relationship gets "cut" short. Maybe the player believes a shorter-term contract will allow him to prove himself and then get back into the free agent market for a second time during his prime-earning years. Let's use Justin Hartwig as an example. Hartwig is the center who signed a 2-year contract with the Steelers in 2008 as an unrestricted free agent. While Hartwig was good enough to start in 2008, and as the starter that season was part of the team that won Super Bowl XLIII, he never was viewed as a long-term answer and was replaced by the Steelers when they used a No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on Maurkice Pouncey. The fact Hartwig had been signed to a 2-year contract allowed the sides to part ways cleanly in 2010, with Hartwig free to pursue his career elsewhere and the Steelers able to move on with Pouncey without having to carry any dead money on their salary cap.

WILLIAM AVERY FROM GETTYSBURG, PA: Has Andy Weidl ever apologized to Jack Ham for saying that in today's NFL Jack Ham would only be used on special teams?
ANSWER: You are mistaken. Andy Weidl never said that. The Jack Ham comment was made by Doug Whaley.

SHAWN BITTNER FROM JACKSONVILLE, NC: When a player is signed to the practice squad do they have any say or options if another team wants to sign them? I am wondering specifically about Breiden Fehoko. I thought he was going to make the 53-man roster, so it surprised me that he wasn't claimed or signed by another team.
ANSWER: Breiden Fehoko was subject to the waiver system, and the fact he is on the Steelers practice squad now indicates he was not claimed and cleared waivers. Players on the practice squad are not required to accept an offer from another team, but it would make no sense for him to refuse. As a fourth-year player, Fehoko will earn a minimum of $16,100 per week on the practice squad, while the NFL minimum salary for a player with his experience is $1.08 million for the season. When a player is signed off a practice squad, he must be on the signing team's 53-man roster for a minimum of three games, which means the difference for a player of Fehoko's experience is $48,300 for three weeks on a practice squad vs. $180,000 for 3 games during the regular season. As for why Fehoko wasn't claimed off waivers, I only can surmise no other team viewed him as being worth adding to its 53-man roster.

MARK SZABO FROM PARLIN, NJ: Since each game starts with a kickoff (for now, anyway), do the players on the kickoff and return teams get credit for a start, or does that only count for offense and defense, not special teams?
ANSWER: For an NFL regular season game or postseason game, starters are designated as the 11 on the field for each team's first offensive snap and as the 11 on the field for each team's first defensive snap. Opening kickoffs do not apply.

MIKE ROBEY FROM TILTONSVILLE OH: What is the situation with Corey Trice Jr.? A great talent who fell to us because of past injuries.
ANSWER: The situation with Cory Trice Jr. is that he sustained a significant knee injury that required surgery and was placed on the injured reserve list before rosters were cut to 53 players, which means he cannot play for the Steelers at all during the 2023 season. For his part, Trice has vowed to attack his rehabilitation and return to the team in 2024. I'll be rooting for him.

LEVI LICHTMAN FROM BROOKLYN, NY: I am a therapist and enjoy reading your work and find it very informative and funny. In a previous Asked and Answered, Tom McCormick asked you about the fan base being encouraged about the upcoming season based on the Steelers 3-0 preseason. At the end of your answer you said you are notorious for someone who lives in his fears. Would you like to set up an appointment?
ANSWER: When it comes to living in my fears, I have come to accept that I am a hopeless cause.