Gerry Dulac: OK, let's get our chat started....
Nick: Which offensive and defensive player from the current roster are Steelers superstars in 2016?
Gerry Dulac: Well, thats a long way off and anything can happen in terms of injury, just ask LaMarr Woodley. But, I think the player on defense, based on what we have already seen,is Cam Heyward. He isn't dominant yet, not always, but he is darn close. And he's only going to get better. On offense, it's David DeCastro, a perennial Pro Bowler waiting to happen. I know both of those picks are linemen, and linemen aren't always considered superstars. But I think those players have a chance to be among the best at their position.
Now, I did not pick Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey or Antonio Brown because they are already considered among the best, if not the best, at their respective positions.
TC from Big D: Here in big D, the Cowboys fans are down on Sean Lee due to all the injuries. Sound familiar? How about an off season trade, Sean Lee for Lamar Woodley?
Gerry Dulac: Well, the Steelers passed on Sean Lee once, which for three years looked like a mistake, so maybe they would again.
That, though, is the problem with players with repeated injuries -- it's tough to depend on them. I think the difference between Woodley and Lee, though, is that Lee has been largely productive when he's been on the field. And he is not due $8 million in salary and going to count nearly $13.6 million against the cap in 2014.
Dom: Please tell us the Steelers have learned from the Keenan Lewis departure and will not let Worilds get away in favor of Woodley...
Gerry Dulac: I'm with ya there, Dom. And I don't think they will let Worilds get away. i think the departure of Woodley is a foregone conclusion, unless he agrees to some significant pay cut -- and I don't think that will happen. Thereis no upside to keeping Woodley, not when he is unproductive, unreliable and very expensive.
JamesinNYC: What is Woodley worth on the open market do you think? Follow that up with what would the Steelers have to offer him as a reduced salary to stay on and improve his marketability?
Gerry Dulac: I don't know what he is worth, but it won't be at any number approaching $8 million in salary and a $13.6 million cap hit. The old Woodley might have commanded that. But, in the past 2 1/2 seasons, he is unreliable because of injuries and unproductive when he has been on the field.
And I really don't know that they would offer a pay cut, or what it would be if they did. But it would be significant to the point Woodley would not accept it. Why should he? Unlike James Harrison last year or Casey Hampton the year before that, Woodley is 29 and, potentially, still has several good years remaining. I'm sure he would -- or thinks he can -- get more than that on the open market.
Dom: Why would Woodley accept a pay cut if he can bank $14 mill from Steelers immediately AND get paid elsewhere?
Gerry Dulac: You don't understand the salary cap, so let me explain. That $14 million to whoich you refer is his the remaining three years of his pro-rated signing bonus ($5.59 million in 2014, $5.59 million in 2014 and $2.9 million in 2016). It counts against the Steelers cap, but it is money he has ALREADY pocketed with his signing bonus, which was about $25 million. So, yes, you are right to a degree, but even more than you thought. But the reality is, Woodley wll lose $25.5 million in salary he was due the next three years, and it is unlikely he will receive any contract like that as a free agent.
JamesinNYC: Are you home for the Holidays?
Gerry Dulac: Christmas yes. After Green Bay
JamesinNYC: I figured with the new NFL where middle age players are not generally hitting it big...if he came back and had a great year he could get a better salary then after 2 years of being a top MASH unit player.
Gerry Dulac: The Steelers aren't going to take that chance at his price tag. And, like I said, why would he agree to a signifcant pay cut at age 29? Also, the Steelers will need money to sign Worilds, and what easier place to find it than in the $25.5 million they would save by cutting Woodley now.
Nick: Is this the year the Steelers break their offense-defense-offense-defense draft day trend?
Gerry Dulac: Didn't know there was a trend. And the answer is no -- tall wide receiver first round.
Gerry Dulac: That's all the time we have today kids. Have to head to the locker roonm. No chat next week. We will continue the following week. Look for the reschedule.