Gerry Dulac: All right, it's almost time to start our weekly chat so let's get ready.
Guest: Think the Bus finally gets to Canton?
Gerry Dulac: A lot of national people don't think he will make it this year, but I think he will. And I sure hope he does, My feeling is, if Curtis Martin is in, then Bettis should be in. Nothing against Curtis Martin, but Bettis will go down as the best big back (250+ pounds) in NFL history.
Bob: Now that he has passed away, do you think LC Greenwood will be considered by the vet's committee for HOF induction in 2015?
Gerry Dulac: I don't know that that will be, or should be, the criteria for someone getting in the Hall of Fame, even on the veterans committee. And, as much as I like L.C., I think Donnie Shell is the former Steeler who isn't in the HOF and should be.
Ryan: Thoughts on drafting a late round RB or looking for one on the market. They need a number two guy, I don think Jones cuts it and Dwyer's that short yardage guy.
Gerry Dulac: I like the idea, and not even a late round, maybe even the fifth round. And I think is should be a smaller, quicker, shifty type of back, someone who is a good complement to Le'Veon Bell. I don't know what the team plans to do with LaRod Stephens-Howling, who showed some of that in the preseason before he was hurt. Maybe they think he can be that guy. But I'm definitely on board with drafting a running back at some point after round 4.
Hammer: Your guess as to what the Steelers do with Worllds and Woodley?
Gerry Dulac: The Steelers want to re-sign Jason Worilds, and I think they want to do so before the free-agent period begins March 11. To do so, they might have yto pay him a little more than they would like, but I think they will do so. And, if they do, they will then release LaMarr Woodley. The Steelers made a big mistake last year letting Keenan Lewis go and keeping Ike Taylor. I think, and hope, they learned their lesson.
Chief: If you had to guess right now which vets do you think will definitely not return?
Gerry Dulac: I think there are several, and I think at least three, and possibly all four, of these players are gone: Ryan Clark, Brett Keisel, LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor. I could see Keisel coming back for one more year, but I don't think that is going to happen. And you could probably argue that the Steelers need a corner and Ike could be brought back at a signifcantly reduced price, much like Casey Hampton was in 2012. But that would only further point up the mistake they made last year when they let Keenan Lewis go and kept Ike. They wouldn't have this problem. Ike's salary in 2014 is $7 million and he will count $11.9 million against the cap. That's a lot of money for a guy who doesn't intercept the ball and doesn't make splash plays. The Steelers will save $7 million if they release him.
Jack: What changes, if any, do you expect to the coaching staff, and will that include Munchak as Off Line coach?
Gerry Dulac: I expect RB coach Kirby Wilson to leave because he has been looking around for another job, even though he is not being forced out. And I think that will be it. I don't know if Mike Munchak will come here as O-line coach, but I sure hope so. He's a good guy and a proven good coach and would be a tremendous addition to the staff.
Corey: Gerry - Thoughts on moving down in the draft for two second rd picks. We could get a tall WR for Ben and a CB and/or FS in the second.
Gerry Dulac: Absolutely not. At No. 15, you have a chance to still get one of the premier players in the draft, especially a wide receiver. The Steelers are not accustomed to drafting that high. When they get the chance, don't trade it away, especially when you need difference-makers on your team.
Joe: It's been reported that a couple of offensive line coaches turned down Tomlin's job offers last season and thus he ended up with his third choice (who obviously did not last). Why did these coaches turn down the offers?
Gerry Dulac: That was me, Joe, and what i said was that Jack Bicknell Jr. was not on the original list of four possible candidates for the offensive line coach job. Why the others didn't work out I'm not sure.
Dapper Dan: Hey Gerry, looking back at your Pittsburgh sports coverage...can you think of a Player or coach who you thought was a sure hit, bet the house, but missed? same with a guy, you thought would never make in a million years and yet did?
Gerry Dulac: DD, I'm not qualified to evaluate who might be a good coach or a bad coach, so I don't have any preconceived notions when a hire is made. And I'm pretty much the same with players. I'm not a scout or talent evaluator. But let me say this, after attending the combine for the past 5-6 years and talking with NFL coaches, the players I thought who would be good selections for the Steelers were Mike Iupati, Maurkice Pouncey, Dontari Poe, Ziggy Ansah, Cordarelle Patterson, Keenan Allen, Arthur Brown and Tyler Eifert. How are they doing?
Dude_From_Cali: with 3 possible 4th round picks, do Steelers trade up?
Gerry Dulac: Absolutely. I adovated the same thing last year, knowing they would have several compensatory picks for Mike Wallace, Mendenhall and Keenan Lewis, and it was one of the reasons why the Steelers traded their third-round choice in 2014 to take Shamarko Thomas. Now, rememnber, teams can't trade a compensatory pick, so the Steelers would have to trade one of their regular picks. But give away your fourth and fifth-round pick to move up in the fourth. Or, if you're really good, do the same to get back into the third round.
Tony: I read the other day that the Steelers are working on a new 3 yr contract for Troy. Did you hear anything?
Gerry Dulac: Let me say this, the Steelers will probably try to re-work Troy's deal to save money under the cap. He is scheduled to count $10.8 million this season, so it's possible it could be re-worked to lessen the cap hit in 2014. But I don't think it's mandatory they do that. Extending his deal only means that he will count against their cap for even more years, and maybe they don't want to do that.
Curt: Is Jarvis Jones the real deal? He seemed to come on a bit near the end of the season.
Gerry Dulac: I think he can be, but I'll still withhold judgement. He needs to get stronger and develop another pass-rush move, something other than just trying to run around the tackle. But, yes, he did come on at the end, especially in the last game, and he showed he has instincts for the ball and the ability to make dramatic plays.
Dude_From_Cali: do you and Ed both attend Met Life superbowl? On bosses' tab?
Gerry Dulac: No.
Gerry Dulac: Well, first off, they're not going to let Cam Heyward or Cortez Allen get away next year. And they drafted Shamarko Thomas with the idea he would replace Ryan Clark this year. And that's the reason for letting go of players at those positions you mentioned -- to create cap room. And that's why you try to draft good players -- to groom them to step in when those other players depart. Or maybe you go out and find a James Farrior or Ryan Clark in free agency. Do not panic. Yet.
tomk: I really think bell needs another back to help carry the load and i dont believe jonathan dwyer is the answer. Do u think the steelers take a rb in the draft?
Gerry Dulac: See earlier answer. Yes, I think they do.
Tiny: Assuming they ever add the 3000 new seats, do you think that will be the end of expansion at Heinz, or could they add even more down the road?
Gerry Dulac: I think the addition will be great because I never like open areas, especially that open, in a stadium. It will help enclose some of the noise. Plus, the new seats will not totally block any views of downtown or the point. And, yes, I think that will be the end of the expansion. The Steelers did not want to build a stadium with 80,000 seats because they wanted to create a demand for tickets, not make plenty available. The Pittsburgh market isn't big enough to support that.
Jon: Gerry, are the steelers any closer to filling their vacated Oline coach position or are they still interviewing candidates?
Gerry Dulac: Every time they interview a candidate they get closer. I don't think there's any question Mike Munchak is at the top of the list, so it will be more about what he is going to do rather than what the Steelers are going to do. Guest: Ever watch Charles Sims out of WVU play? I think he fits your criteria of small and shifty. Not to say he's who they should pick, just curious if you've seen/like his play.
Gerry Dulac: I haven't seen enough of him. And I wil start to look at some players more closely after the Super Bowl as the combine approaches.
Corey: Do you expect Sean Spence to return this year?
Gerry Dulac: I sure hope so. I thought it was encouraging he was well enough to practice this year, even though it was on a limited basis. I think everyone was encouraged by that. But I think the offseason workouts wll be the first indication if he can. And, if he can and return to health, the Steelers will have a terrific player at linebacker. But that's why you have to wait and see. He might return, but how good will he be?
Rich: When all is said and done will the nfl take away a draft pick for the Tomlin incident?
Gerry Dulac: I still don't believe they will, and if they do it will be a joke. If they do, then the NFL should take away a draft choice from the SF 49ers for having an assistant strength coach knock down a Sehawks gunner on the sidelines. That's even worse than the Tomlin incident because, to me, that looked very very intentional.
But I have always thought if they do "take away" a draft choice, the league will merely say they are taking away a late compensatory pick that otherwise would have been awarded.
Art: Jerry, the Richard Sherman blowup ignited a lot of discussion. Do you agree it is time for the NFL to crack down on trash talking, the throwing of punches, and all the other thug behavior that seems to have overtaken the NFL?
Gerry Dulac: Werll, I do think they are trying, though there is not a whole lot you can do about trash-talking. That part doesn't bother me. But behavior such as what Sherman did the other night is disgraceful, embarrassing and unnecessary, not to mention narcissistic and unprofessional. At a time when he should have been celebrating his team's victory, all Sherman wanted to do was make it about himself. I love when I hear people say that's just Sherman being himself. Well, I didn't see Peyton Manning doing that when the Broncos beat the Patriots, and if any one player was responsible on Sunday for his team going to the Super Bowl it was Manning. Richard Sherman is a clown, and I've never liked buffoons in any professional sport. All he is doing is fostering more intolerable behavior for any young person who thinks it's OK to behave that way. The players association should step in and fine Sherman for verbally assailing one of their union brethren.
John Q.: Is Tomlin in Mobile? Any players they are interviewing or paying closer attention to?
Gerry Dulac: Tomlin is in Mobile with the rest of the staff. And, unlike the combine where there are drills and interviews, coaches mainly watch the players practice.
Jack Splat: Hi, Gerry, I think Clarke and Taylor need to go. To do that though Steelers need to draft a CB or safety in the first 2 rounds and maybe bring in one of those positions in FA, don't you think?
Gerry Dulac: I couldn't agree more. I have already said that, if it were up to me, I'd take a tall wide receiver in the first round, a corner or safety on the second round (preferably a corner), and defensive players with the next three picks, too, especially a defensive lineman and inside linebacker. But, in addition to new talent, you also need some experience, so somewhere along the line I'd go find a starter in free agency. Not a backup as in past years, a starter.
Gerry Dulac: OK, kids, that's all for today. So many good questions I went twice as long today. See you next week.