Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon, let's begin
Adam: Do you expect the Steelers' management to break the trend of avoiding moderately priced free agents?
Ed Bouchette: I think they could have one moderately priced free agent in them. They also have a few of their own to sign.
JamesinNYC: Do you think the Steelers will say to Da Beard if June 2nd rolls around and you don't have a job look us up?
Ed Bouchette: I think they could say that after the draft, which is May 8-10, if they still have a need at defensive end. I don't think it would occur before that. He also may already have signed elsewhere.
Go Steelers!: Hi Ed, do you think the Steelers will sign any of their DE's? Woods maybe?
Ed Bouchette: One was the increase in salary cap room for each team, by about $10 million. The Steelers probably had many of these moves in mind before they even knew about the extra room each team would have. Another is they have a ton of their own free agents, players they need to re-sign like Jerricho Cotchery, defensive linemen, etc. And that $7 M in space won't last long.
Adam: What do you think of the Mendenhall retirement? How would you describe his legacy with the team?
Ed Bouchette: As a quitter, one. As an inconsistent runner. As someone who did not have his full heart in the game. I also have to wonder where people are saying he "turned down millions" by retiring. What he did was pull a preemptive strike by quitting before he could find out no one wanted him.
kjacksonpgh: Ed, with more needs then normal can we this year expect more of a free agency splash than normal?
Ed Bouchette: I would not expect too many "splashes" because they still do not have a lot of cap space. They could use a long-term deal with Worilds to help them save. Restructuring Lawrence Timmons would create some more room.
westCoast: Ed, do you think Ben gets extended this year. Cant understand the logic as he is the franchise.
Ed Bouchette: Perhaps the Steelers made too big of a deal out of making exceptions for quarterbacks to extend their contracts when they have 2 years to go. Now it's expected. Roethlisberger has 2 years left on his deal and he's going nowhere, so what's the rush? I do think something can still get done this year.
Curly: I would like to remind Steelers fans that being a big player in free agency is not necessarily a good thing. I'm sure you will remember in 2003 the Steelers tried to sign Superbowl MVP Dexter Jackson from the TB Bucs, but he spurned their offer. Had he accepted, they likely would not have drafted Troy Polamalu, and who knows if they would have even achieved their two Superbowl victories without him.
Ed Bouchette: And while that is not a question, you make a perfect point. Another one would be to look at the history of the Washington Redskins' signings in free agency.
Adam: Are the Steelers showing any interest in retaining Velasco?
Ed Bouchette: I don't believe they have really talked to him yet. They also have a history of allowing many of their free agents to test the market, to find out what others think they are worth. It's been effective many times for them.
Alan: Do you have a sense as to any particular players the Steelers covet who could be there at #15?
Ed Bouchette: Not yet, no. But I have noticed that many of the mock drafts that are updated weekly change who they pick for the Steelers. Perhaps it is the shotgun approach, that when all is said and done, they can say they got it right. I don't think they have any more idea than the Steelers do right now and I'd bet they don't have an idea who they will draft yet.
JamesinNYC: Do any of the moves change the draft strategy? CB later for example?
Ed Bouchette: No, I think cornerback still has to be a high priority for them.
westCoast: Any insight into who are on the steeler's radar today?
Ed Bouchette: Maybe Greg Warren. Seriously.
Adam: What position should the Steelers address first in free agency?
Ed Bouchette: They really need to get one or two of their defensive ends back. Last I checked, they still have just one halfback who has any NFL carries for them so they need some depth there.
Adam: The Steelers were last in the NFL on rush defense outside the tackles. How will they address this in the offseason?
Ed Bouchette: They need to find some defensive linemen, to start.
dave: Do they think Keisel is done as a player?
Ed Bouchette: Not necessarily. He wants to continue to play. He still has something to offer. I would just worry about his age and his health.
Wild Bill: Is Safety a strength of the Steelers, again? Troy played great, Sharmako is young and Steelers were high on him. Will Allen is a very capapble starter as backup. Plus you have Golden who has a few years under his belt and is good on special teams
Ed Bouchette: I would not go so far as to call it a strength. I'm not sure you can call any area of the team after quarterback a strength.
Adam: Why do ESPN analysts argue that LT is such a massive need for the Steelers? Can Beachum hold down that position long-term? What about Mike Adams?
Ed Bouchette: The Steelers believe right tackle is more of a concern for them than left tackle right now.
Guest: Surprised they kept Ike?
Ed Bouchette: A little, but at $2.75 million, he's worth bringing back, especially when they saw what was available in free agency vs. its cost. This takes the pressure off as they go into the draft.
Paul n Pain: Hi Ed, great chat as always! Can you speculate on the possible landing spots for Woodley?
Ed Bouchette: The Titans and the Eagles would be high on the list.
SteelersNo.1: Hi Ed, given the importance of linebackers in their defense, do you think the Steelers would think hard about taking CJ Mosley if he is available at the 15th pick? He could be the last piece of their best starting quartet of LBs since the 1995 season.
Ed Bouchette: I think they could, but they also have big needs elsewhere on defense and at wide receiver. I'm not ready to concede that their LBs are that strong until I see more from both Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds.
Rust Cohle: Unless I missed it, does Ike's pay cut also portend a move to safety?
Ed Bouchette: No, he's staying at cornerback.
Adam: Do you think the NFL should change the PAT? If they simply made TDs worth 7 and allowed the teams to gamble one point to get to 8 (or 6), would that be a sufficient/acceptable change in your mind?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I think that rule change would help the game. The PAT is boring, automatic and unnecessary. Unless you're the kicker's mom, you are not watching. I like Roger Goodell's proposal as you mention.
Ken: Don't the steeler'need to make more cap room. They would be lucky to sign J Cotchery, Al Woods and one of there ol men with 7M
Ed Bouchette: Remember that cap room is different from total money. You can turn $7 million in cap room in 2014 to plenty of signings. They also should be able to find more cap room as they go along.
Guest: Ed did you see what woodley changed his background pictures on his facebook and twitter to? Were these perhaps influenced by his termination from the team?
Ed Bouchette: I'm not on Facebook and I don't often even pay attention to the backgrounds, but now you have us all curious, so we'll probably check it out.
Wild Bill: Was Drafting Jarvis Jones actually counter productive to the "Steelers Build through the Draft" srategy? Can you build though the draft by picking a player who forces you to cut a second round pick from a few years prior?
Ed Bouchette: I'm not sure what you mean. They were forced to cut LaMarr Woodley because of Jarvis Jones? I think LaMarr Woodley's non-play forced their hand more than anything.
Tom: Any idea if team will use flexible pricing on tickets when ticket plans and schedule are finally released?
Ed Bouchette: I know Art Rooney II has mentioned it as a possibility but I would think it won't happen in 2014.
Wild Bill: Why not just cut both Adams and Gilbert? A journeyman RT will be just as decent and you could save some cash.
Ed Bouchette: They don't make that much.
Strong Arm: If Ben and Bradshaw are the best two QBs in Steelers history (in whatever order you want to place them) who is 3rd?
Ed Bouchette: Bobby Layne
Miller: Does Mendenhall retiring affect the compensation the Steelers will receive for him in the draft or is it just based on his 2013 season?
Ed Bouchette: Based all on 2013.
Ed Bouchette: Thanks for another great chat. See you next Tuesday