Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell, left, is tackled by Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan after an interception during the first half of an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013.
Poll Question: If you were giving a grade for Kevin Colbert's work so far, what would it be? Answer #1: A: All the right moves (10%) Answer #2: B: So far, not too bad (45%) Answer #3: C: A lot of guys left from 8-8 team (15%) Answer #4: D: Need to see much more (25%) Answer #5: F: No impact players (5%)
JamesinNYC: One issue I have is that Colbert and crew are pushing a lot of money forward. Do you see it as a problem or next year Ike goes off books and rest are OK?
Jerry Micco: The Steelers have always pushed money forward and then took care of it next year. They'll get a break in that Woodley's savings are into next year and 2016. And, too, you may see guys like Polamalu gone after this season. There's always ways to trim back the cap, as we saw this season.
Gus: Nice signing by Colbert of Mitchell. Who else may be lurking as a potential signing? WR?
Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers would like to sign Jericho Cotchery, their own UFA, as a WR, but haven't done so yet. I saw our Gerry Dulac Tweet last night that Steelers fans shouldn't be surprised if the team signs a linebacker in free agency. That is an area of need both inside and outside for depth. So that could be a place you see a signing. I don't think they'll go FA with a wide receiver other than Cotchery, though.
JamesinNYC: Mitchell a one year wonder that could haunt the Steelers?
Jerry Micco: I remember when the Raiders drafted him I thought it was a huge reach in round 2. Figured it was an Al Davis speed guy who he just wanted to get on his team. And it showed as he hardly played in four seasons there. But he blossomed at Carolina last year in a great defense. I think this guy is a Ryan Clark type player and a very good pickup by the Steelers. I think the fact that they paid $25 million for him and got him on Day 1 of free agency says they are comfortable that he can be more an a one-year wonder.
QB Guru: What do the Steelers do to make Ben happy? Is all the Cap space getting freed up to give him Brees/Matt Ryan/Flacco money?
Jerry Micco: The Steelers have Ben under contract for two more years and they may not be working with him until they need to re-sign him. They'll do that, but they may be waiting to see if they can put more players around him and if he'll give them any type of discount. Ben wants a third ring. Maybe he'd take a bit less money to get that shot. The Steelers may be banking on that, but I don't know. There's an awful lot of money tied up in No. 7, like there are in most top NFL QBs.
Guest: Is Woodley a system LB and does he find success elsewhere?
Jerry Micco: Before he was injured 2 and a half seasons ago, he had 9 sacks in 8 games. Woodley is a dangerous pass rusher when healthy. That's the thing, though: when healthy. He's not been healthy and he's 30. I think he can still play and someone is going to get a pretty solid player. Not a player worth $10 million, but a very good player.
Mike T.: E. Sanders surprised he isnt signed yet. No Wallace $$ this year!!
Jerry Micco: Sanders isn't going to get that type of money. He's more of a possession guy, but he'll have some suitors. And who knows, maybe the Steelers are going to be interested after he tests the market. Never know.
Ross: Hi Jerry, with all the holes we have on defense. there cannot be a bigr concern then defensive line. A least we can field a team in the other positions. I would like the Steelers to adress this in free agency, preferrablya nose tackle. Not early in the draft, where I would lik to see a skilled position filled. Your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: Steve McLendon is still the nose tackle and Cam Heyward is one of the starting DEs. But you are right, Al Woods, Ziggy Hood and Brett Kiesel are all FAs and none are signed. The Steelers are going to see what the market is for these players and may circle back to them at some point. Or, you could see a FA signing. if not, look for a couple of DL to be taken, probably on days 2 and 3 of the draft.
Dr Roy Chipman: Spring must be right around the corner as I see the annual rite of Spring Pitt Basketball team underachieving in a tournament setting. How far do they have to go in the ACC tourney to get a seed in the big dance?
Jerry Micco: I think they are already in the NCAA tournament, but probably a 10 or 11 seeding. If they can win their first-round ACC game, that will solidify a 10. Now, if they can knock off say, a North Carolina, maybe they move up a spot, but not much more. I think Pitt's good for at least one win in the ACC tournament, but I think it is already in the NCAA field.
The Chief: Jerry, Hi Hope all is well! Mitchell thrived in the Carolina D of Ron Rivera, how is that D different the Steeler's D ?
Jerry Micco: Hi Chief. All's well, thanks. I'm not sure how different it is to be honest. I think Carolina is a 4-3, but I'm not 100 percent sure. Their free safety is, like Ryan Clark was here, a rover that has to be a big hitter and a ball hawk. I think the Steelers, like every team, scout players they think will fit their scheme.
Guest: Travis Snider not exactly hitting the cover off the ball. 0-3 3K's the other day. Will the Bucs miss G.I Jones?
Jerry Micco: They might, but he didn't deliver all that much last season. Snider needs some time to play. He had been hitting pretty well before the other day, so maybe he just had a bad day. Gotta see if he can play or not. But let's face it. He and Tabata are keeping the position warm for Gregory Polanco.
Waiting for # 7: Jerry...good to see the the signing of Mitchell and the resigning of Cody Wallace. What is the likelihood of them signing Velasco now? Thought he did a nice job.
Jerry Micco: I think by signing Wallace, that signals the end of the Fernando Velasco era in Pittsburgh. He did a very good job while in Pittsburgh replacing Pouncey. I think the Achilles injury late last year played a part in this decision. Velasco may not be ready until the start of camp and then, is going to be a bit behind everyone else. Wallace looked pretty good, too, filling in for him last season.
The Chief: Jerry, it is only a small sample of games , but your thoughts on the two Penguins acquisitions at the deadline: Stempniak and Goc?
Jerry Micco: Doing what you'd expect them to do. Stempniak, who will be the subject of a story in tomorrow's PG by Shelly Anderson, is bringing energy to Crosby's line. He's a tough guy who can skate. A nice fit for that unit. Goc is a good third- or fourth-line guy who is good in the face-off circle and can kill penalties. So far, the trade looks very good for the Pens.
Bob T.: How about H. Nicks for 1 year deal upgrade from Cotchery and younger
Jerry Micco: If they have the money under the cap, why not? I just think it will be tough to get Nicks for just the one year. He may have suitors willing to sign him to multiple years. But I like the way you're thinking.
Sue T.: We have no D-Lineman on the roster. Heyward, Arnfelt, McClendon and the rookie form Samford. That's it. Need to get some qualitiy bodies, Colbert!!
Jerry Micco: There are some out there in free agency, but I do think they will see if anyone bites on their own FAs. Looks like Woods will talk to Tennessee today. But Ziggy and Keisel don't seem to be busy. Free agency isn't done in a few days. And if they think they can sign Keisel for the veteran minimum, they might do it. Maybe.
Bob Smizik Jr: All 4 of these players are available at 15. Aaron Donald, Louis Nix, Dennard, and Marquise Lee. Who do you select?
Jerry Micco: Darqueze Dennard, no question.
Another Jerry: When may we know for sure @ Spence?
Jerry Micco: Sean Spence? Maybe not until training camp.
semich51: Hi Jerry, What would be the reason NFL teams like the Steelers bring in players to interview with no intent of signing them? I read that in Ed's article yesterday, but got my question in to late for him to answer.
Jerry Micco: Well, they may want to kick the tires on a player so they interview him. Why not? Nothing to lose there. I don't think they are bringing in players to interview who they have predetermined not to sign. That's a waste of a lot of people's time. Unless they are using it as a ruse to make people think they are interested in someone to jack up the price.
jack: Does the Peverly incident alter the way the Pens handle Letangs situation. And does thie throw up a red flag to Letang and change his thinking?
Jerry Micco: I think the Penguins will let the medical people handle Letang's situation, as they have always said they would. Any team, the Penguins being no exception, would handle it that way. You have to do it like that. Doctors make those decisions with the players. There are going to be risks involved and the players have a right to know every one of them. But only a doctor can make a decision as to whether it's safe for a guy to be out there or not.
Mel Jr: In my blog I wrote about how the Steelers need to sign a free agent WR to fill that hole, possibly Ted Ginn and draft a CB in the 1st round. What if Gilbert and Dennard are both gone. Do you trade down at that point and accumulate more picks?
Jerry Micco: In a deep draft, if you can pick up extra picks you do it, of course. Depends on who's on the board and what you get in return. If Mike Evans the WR from Texas A&M is there, then you don't trade, you take him. Really depends on who is on the board at that time. Interesting scenario, though.
jack: Any chance the Steelers make a offer to Revis?
Jerry Micco: None. Too expensive.
Guest: Dottie Sandusky on the Today Show saying her husband is innocent. Your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I'd be surprised if she said anything different.
Another Jerry: Is Taylor's $2.75 all guaranteed?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure if it's guaranteed. I'd imagine if he took that kind of cut that it's guaranteed, but don't quote me on that. I think the Steelers see him as a guy who might be a part-time player especially if they draft a corner. He may even start. As badly as he played last season, he actually got better toward the end when he wasn't put on the other team's best WR. He's not what he used to be, but as a part-time guy at that price, OK for one season.
Leon Seals: Is your boy Ziggy Hood getting any looks from teams? Chatter on him seems pretty quiet. Will Zigg-meister 'retire' as a Steeler?
Jerry Micco: Ziggy doesn't seem to be getting much traffic, and while I catch a lot of grief for being a guy who thinks people give Hood way too much grief, I don't think he'd be a terrible re-sign by the Steelers. For less money, he can hold down DE, not as a star player, but then those positions are star positions in the 3-4. Tell me, would you mind seeing Hood-McLendon-Heyward start Game 1? Maybe have Arnfelt and a couple draft picks behind them?
The Chief: Jerry, the Pirates are about two and a half weeks from playing games that count. Your thoughts on the team so far?
Jerry Micco: As always, I look at pitching first. The bullpen looks to be fine and actually will be a strength of the team again. The starters, to me, are up and down. I like what I see from Morton and Rodriguez. I think Cole will be fine. I think Liriano will be fine, too. But that no. 5 spot is going to be an issue. Volquez, unless he fine tuning, is getting bombed. Why is it I can see an "elbow" issue and extended spring training in his future? Locke is nicked up, but may have to be the no. 5 guy to start. Taillon isn't ready, but should be come June or July. The offense, I think, will actually be a bit better. But we'll see.
JamesinNYC: I think Ziggy should do himself a favor and find a 4-3 D and play tackle, just a suggestion. I would like to see Keisel come back he can at least hold down the fort for most of a year right?
Jerry Micco: Keisel would be a nice signing for a year, but he's been banged up for parts of the last 2 years. And there is the age factor. That's why I lean more toward Hood because he's younger and healthier. Again, Hood isn't going to make anyone forget Reggie White, but if he can just hold his own and make some plays, he is a serviceable DE in a 3-4.
Guest: Jerry, did you read the piece last week on McQueary? Apparently he had a gambling problem and in a kneel down situation against Rutgers he threw a TD pass to cover the spread much to the dismay of JoePa and the Rutgers Coach. I guess that whole Happy Valley was a facade
Jerry Micco: I did read that very good story from ESPN's Don Van Atta. I saw where someone was anonymously quoted that McQueary bet on games while a backup at PSU. But I didn't see the part where Van Atta painted the entire place as a facade. But if you go in with a pre-conceived notion, then of course, you'd see that.
Gooch: I'll cater lunch for the whole sports Department if the Steelers re-sign Ziggy Hood. His highlight reel lasts about 8 seconds.
Jerry Micco: There are about 30 of us. And we love to eat. Though I've lost 20 pounds since Thanksgiving, so I'll take it easy on you. And we all like Italian.
Guest: Gerritt Cole's projected numbers this year? 20 wins possible?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so. I think he can get to 15 wins, though. I think. I also think Liriano can come close to his 16 wins from last season, too. The key, to me, is if Morton can get to 14-15 wins. If he can do that and bring Cole along with him, the Pirates can be contenders again.
Bob Smizik Jr: Is there an NCAA Bracket contest at the PG and does Smizik win every year? I just assume by his blog he knows more than anyone
Jerry Micco: Of course we have a contest within our newsroom, for entertainment purposes only, but Bob is a freelancer and works offsite so he doesn't enter it. Which is probably a good thing because he has vast knowledge of college hoops and would probably win it yearly. I, on the other hand, usually can pick teams that do pretty well until the big points are available, then can't see an upset to save my life.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Excellent chat today, and I appreciate you all taking time out of your day to spend it with me. I'll be back at noon next Wednesday and we'll do it all over again. Until then, have a terrific week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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