Listen . . . . That’s the Steelers salary cap dropping even as we write. They’ve done Lawrence Timmons. Ben Roethlisberger will be done by the end of the week. LaMarr Woodley will come next.
However, they don’t have many others to play with. Antonio Brown has a salary of only $2 million this year, so the room they can create there is small. It looks here as though they will have get a few players to agree to paycuts, which will be the real drama because these restructures were all expected.
Remember, they still have to tender their restricted free agents, and they cannot even think about signing other team’s free agents unless they come cheap, cheap, cheap.
That is the only way they will get Steve Breaston, who, by the way, won’t be signed to replace Mike Wallace. He would be signed to add depth to what is a thin receiving corps after Wallace leaves. It would not change their approach in the draft at wide receiver either.
Onto one item and then your questions:
--- Our friend Clark Judge has a handful of players teams should be wary of, including the No. one I’ve suggested the Steelers will not consider:
--- YOU: Ed, will the Steelers release a list of players they met with at he combine? Re: FAs Besides Breaston, is anyone else scheduled to visit the Steelers?
ME: No, the Steelers do not reveal who they met with at the combine. They are permitted to meet with 30 draft-eligible players at their facility, and they can meet with unlimited free agents. They do not formally release names of those who visit.
--- YOU: I know you keep saying it ain't so, but it just seems so likely to me that the top two guard prospects, Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina and Chance Warmack of Alabama, are the most likely of the top dozen or so players in the draft to slip to 17. If we agree that an exceptional offensive line is crucial for success in the NFL, they should finish the job and draft a LG first this year? Also, if you're picking "best athlete available" at 17, you will have a hard time doing better than a top 10 or 12 prospect who slips only because of this antiquated notion that an interior lineman is less valuable. Even Kevin Colbert made a point of saying it could happen. Have I convinced you yet?
ME: I wouldn’t draft a guard in the first round. I’d trade down instead. You and others are overlooking Kelvin Beachum, perhaps because he was drafted in the seventh round. Beachum played so well at right tackle at the end of the year that they feel he can do the job at guard.
--- YOU: Is the Steelers' cap situation less dire than it looks? Is it just a matter of reshuffling a few existing deals to get under the cap? I wonder if the decisions to come with free agents really will be driven by $$$ or if that's just an excuse to move away from players on the backside of their careers.
ME: They are not as bad off as they were a year ago. However, they also don’t have as many veteran contracts that are restructurable to save the money they need. Something has to give.
--- YOU: In three seasons of high school football, my team won two PIAA state
titles in the AAA division. We all did not hang out together. We all
didn't like each other. And, at times, we nearly fought each other.
To me, this locker room stuff is blown out proportion. What locker
room is 100% united? We won the games for a myriad of reasons, but
the dynamic in the locker room was not one of them.
ME: For one, this isn’t a high school team. For another, the Steelers players are the ones complaining about what they felt their locker room was like in 2012 compared to what it was like previously and inferring it did make a difference. That’s the story, not whether it actually did make a difference.
--- YOU: Gerry mentioned in a slog post on 2/21 that if the Steelers use more zone blocking schemes this season that Redman and Dwyer don't fit as well with that approach.
I'd ask Gerry, but he doesn't do fan email, so can you perhaps shed a little more light on the issue he is describing?
ME: Gerry has a chat here today, and I would not want to spoil his answer to a question you can ask him there.
--- YOU: You mentioned the Steelers should consider trading back with the 17th pick in this year's draft. What about the opposite? Since the value of mid-round picks is lower than in recent years, what would it take for the Steelers to get a second 1st round pick? Or an additional 2nd round pick?
ME: The opposite of trading down would be to trade up. You are suggesting the Steelers find a way to get an additional first-round pick, which is entirely different. In order to get an additional first-round draft pick this year, they would have to at least trade their first-round pick in 2014, and that won’t happen. To get an additional second-round pick, you’d have to trade your first-round pick, which would be trading down.
--- YOU: your take on Tom Brady's extension? More to it than meets the eye? Or just an altruistic QB who cares more about winning than padding his pockets (if there is still room to pad them)?
ME: The initial reactions to Brady’s contract extension were to make him appear to take one for the team. Then, people began to look closer at the deal and discovered it really wasn’t that altruistic.
Here’s a good column on it by veteran Ron Borges of the Boston Herald:
--- YOU: A history/draft question of sorts for you today. Which years would you rank as the top three for Steeler drafts in the new millennia, 2000-2012?
ME: Right now, you’d have to pick 2010 because so far it has produced the only two Pro Bowlers from those classes in Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown. However, parts of the other two still have time to make their cases. Last year’s was off to a fast start before David DeCastro’s injury, Sean Spence’s injury, Alameda Ta’amu’s joy ride and Chris Rainey’s slap in the face. It still may feature three starting offensive linemen this year, with Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum joining DeCastro.
--- YOU: Why do you and Gerry Dulac write that a player was drafted "on the 3rd round," for example, instead of the more common "in the 3rd round?" My friend said that it is because you borrowed the expression from Dulac and that Dulac does it because he is British. Is that true?
ME: Hmmm, I think I’ve written it that way all my life, and I’m older than Gerry. As for “in” the third round, Chuck Noll once said “don’t follow the crowd.’’ How about “during” the third round?
-- YOU: Jarvis Jones seems to be on the Steelers' radar--do you think his spinal condition is enough to scare the Steelers away?
ME: I’ve seen where some teams believe his back will not be a problem. I would assume the Steelers medical experts are on top of this and they will render an opinion, and the Steelers football men would act accordingly. See next question.
--- You: Because Jarvis Jones is a highly productive
outside linebacker of possible interest to the Steelers,
I did some stenosis research on Web MD.
Web MD says stenosis is caused by the thickening
of the inside of spinal vertebrae, which can cause irritation
of the nerves inside. The irritation causes a loss of strength
in the legs along with severe leg and back pain. It often takes
a few years to produce symptoms.
Stenosis can be treated with exercise and anti-inflammatory
drugs. It can also be treated by surgical procedures which
scrape away the material inside the vertebrae which causes
the narrowing of the "column" that spinal nerves travel through.
(WebMD has other details on the procedures.)
80% of the patients who get the surgery report significant
reductions of pain and gains in strength. The effects of the
surgery typically last 8-10 years. The surgery can be repeated.
I am not confident that doctors can project how long a career
Jarvis Jones could have. They would need data on past NFL
players who had symptom-free stenosis and then had careers
cut short by the pain and weakness.
A close friend of mine was diagnosed with stenosis in
his 60s. Leg pain and weakness were the result. He uses a
cane and his doctor prescribed exercises to build up
leg strength. `A former next-door neighbor lady had
surgical treatment for stenosis. She gained back almost an
inch in height since she no longer had to bend forward to
reduce back pain. Joan had the surgery in her fifties and
was delighted with the results.
PS: I have no medical training, but think I captured
the essence of the WebMD article.
ME: I DO have medical training (high school biology counts, no?) and I can tell you that I would not let you anywhere near Jarvis Jones’ spine. I also have had back surgery, not nearly to the extent involving stenosis, and it has allowed me to play golf again, even though I quit the game about seven years ago.
--- YOU: Just getting caught up on my reading. On Friday you posted a question from a reader about professional athletes and their vocabulary. The person wrote ”Save for Tiger Woods, you’ll never hear that in a pro-golf match.” What golf is this dope watching. Tiger woods is a very well-spoken man. He might have personal problems, but vocabulary is not one. Does this person remember John Daly?
ME: Comparing golfers to football players is like comparing golf to football.
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