Abbie Normal: Short of extending Ben or Pouncey, or signing Worilds to a long term contract, are the Steelers out of tricks for freeing up cap space prior to June 2nd? The Steelers may lose Cotchery and fail to land a gem in FA if they don't soon. Seems to me if they really wanted to keep Cotchery, they would have signed him by now.
Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon, by the way.
They can restructure Lawrence Timmons' contract to save some cap space. I think they were trying to sign Jerricho Cotchery, but I also think he wanted to see if someone else, like Carolina, might give him more.
Touchdown Joey: Why burn the cap space to sign Whimper right now? Couldn't they have waited until post-June 1st to round out the O-line depth and saved the space for more important items, like signing Cotchery, Carrington, etc?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think Guy Whimper ate up much of their salary cap space. Alex Carrington I think is not finding the kind of money out there he thought he might, so he could come around again.
Adam: I am concerned that the constant effort to get under the cap each year will perpetually handicap the Steelers with all of the restructuring. What can the management do to get us out of this vicious cycle?
Ed Bouchette: They cut LaMarr Woodley, for one. For another, there aren't that many big contracts left to restructure. The cap also is expected to rise significantly over the next two years.
Sentient Meat: Who would be the better mentor for Jarvis Jones, Joey Porter or James Harrison?
Ed Bouchette: Maybe they can have both!
Mike M: Do the Steelers expect any comp picks for the May draft for losing Wallace and Lewis last year? Will losing Hood and Sanders result in any picks next year?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, and yes. Can't tell you what yet but they could get as high as a three and there will be more than one. They also lost Mendenhall, which will count, and Ryan Mundy and Will Allen.
Subspace Interference: Was Coach Tomlin given too much power too soon in being the point person on draft day?
Ed Bouchette: Not sure he's the point person on draft day, but every Steelers coach has had a large say in the draft, none more than Chuck Noll, though. He had the final say.
Adam: Is it that the Steelers are against going after big-name FAs on principle or do they just not have the money?
Ed Bouchette: They have nothing against big names and have signed a few in the past. But they are not going to throw money around just because they are big names. James Farrior was a first-round draft pick who played in NY. Plus, yes, they don't have the cap room and have not had it for a number of years to be signing any of the top free agents.
Minnesota Steeler: Do you think that the scheduled visits on Tuesday are the last round or will we see another wave?
Ed Bouchette: It's coming to an end here because they're running out of salary cap room. They might have another minor signing or 2. More could occur after the draft and in June when they get Woodley's money, although there won't be many top-quality free agents left in June.
Alan: What's your take on Cam Thomas? Can he be an effective starter at NT or is he just serviceable?
Ed Bouchette: From everything I've heard, serviceable at best.
The real dr. Joe: Good afternoon Ed. So we have one RB, three WR's, two of who have little playing experience, and two DE's if you consider McClendon one. Is it just me or we in a position to get every pick right in the draft with our salary cap issues? Not real confident with the '08/'09 nightmare drafts.
Ed Bouchette: They are a little thin at a lot of positions. Don't forget OLB either.
Miller: With the draft moved back, do OTAs move back as well? Will this hamper rookies and UFAs in their ability to contribute in 2014, do you think?
Ed Bouchette: No, my understanding is the Steelers spring practice schedule will pretty much stay the same as last year.
Chunkles: Ed, with Rashard retiring, [I thought the was at Super Bowl 45?]what other running back would you put in front of him or behind him as the biggest disappointment for the Steelers?
Ed Bouchette: Walter Abercrombie was a disappointment as a No. 1 pick a generation ago, probably more so than Mendenhall, who at least had a few good years here. Tim Worley, though, tops them all since the 1980s. Greg Hawthorne, in the 1970s, was virtually a bust. All No. 1s.
SteelJim: I had always heard personnel decisions were made jointly between Tomlin and Colbert with a Rooney being the tie-breaker. And that the ranking of draftees was made well ahead of draft day. Is that the csse?
Ed Bouchette: That's pretty much it.
Rob: Is there any chance they bring James Harrison back for 1 year?
Ed Bouchette: If they are not looking at it, they should. Bring him in, see what kind of shape he is in, etc.
Greg: Ed: Are we firmly entrenched in a transition period? I mean it feels like we are but we just haven't jumped both feet into that transition. What would it take to embrace that other than Ben retiring?
Ed Bouchette: As long as Ben Roethlisberger is their quarterback, they believe they have a chance. He will need someone to catch his passes other than Antonio Brown and Heath MIller, though.
Cory: If one of the top three tackles in the draft fall to the 15th pick, do the Steelers think about taking one? Or is kelvin beachum their answer at Left Tackle?
Ed Bouchette: I do not think they are looking to draft an offensive lineman in the first round.
Go Steelers!: Were the Steelers not that impressed with Al Woods? As I recall his deal wasn't that big.
Ed Bouchette: Sorry, I received a phone call from a source I had to take. So, we'll run over our time today.
They liked Al Woods, but apparently not enough to give him $5 M over two years.
Guest: In an effort to curb big time contracts, do you think in the next CBA you might see something similar to the NHL where a player can only take up a certain percent of the cap?
Ed Bouchette: By the time this CBA runs out in 2021, I won't have to worry about that. Who knows what they'll want in seven years.
Adam: I think it would be a mistake to pass up an offensive playmaker that can contribute right away in the first round. Thoughts?
Ed Bouchette: As long as he is a receiver.
Jon: With Burleson, Jacoby Ford and Moreno (assuming Moore does not sign with us) still available, why haven't we went after any weapons like this to help Ben? Wouldn't signing a WR and RB now help us out when it comes draft time?
Ed Bouchette: I'm not quite sure what happened with James Starks. He reportedly was to come here Monday. Next thing you know, it was changed to Wednesday and on Monday, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were down in Florida with the Pirates. The Packers then came to terms with Starks on a 2-year deal Monday. Hmmmm.
Haven't heard of any other interest in any other RB.
Scott in Dallas: Last summer Jermaine Gresham, Bengals' tight end, was my neighbor and he talked about what an immediate difference Harrison made in their locker/weight room. Is this not exactly the kind of influence we need to have restored with all of our team leaders being let go/retiring the last few years?
Ed Bouchette: Marvin Lewis said he was the first one in the Bengals facility daily --- but became No. 2 after they signed Harrison. Yes, I think they could use him back this year for many reasons.
JamesinNYC: Harrison could be Jones's strenght and conditioning coach at least, do you know if they ever actually worked out together? Jones was very diplomatic when he was drafted.
Ed Bouchette: Harrison was long gone before Jones joined the team to work out.
Guest: now that Starks sign with Green Bay do you think They will look at Moreno
Ed Bouchette: I haven't heard his name pop up yet. They are not looking for someone to start or even share equally the load because they want Le'Veon Bell to do that. It would have to be someone who would agree to spot play behind him. It would not surprise me if that doesn't happen until after the draft.
Guest: With our dearth of defensive lineman does that mean we might actually see the two young guys to get a little more opportunity to develop at a faster pace than we have previously seen? Which young player, low round draft pick/UDFA are you most interested/excited in/about?
Ed Bouchette: I really want to see more of Nick Williams, their seventh-round draft choice from Samford who missed last season with an injury. Also, some people liked Brian Arnfelt and I want to see more of him.
Charlie: Hi Ed, great chat as always! a couple of questions re Harrison - is he done, would the team be interested in him for depth, and would he take the minimum contract?
Ed Bouchette: I think if the Steelers are not interested in James Harrison, something is wrong. I haven't talked to James about it, but I would guess he would take close to the minimum. It sounds like a win-win for both sides.
mike: Would the steelers consider bringing back Harrison knowing that he would not be a viable option as a special teams player?
Ed Bouchette: LaMarr Woodley did not play special teams either. As a backup, though, normally you'd want that linebacker to play special teams. Sometimes, though, you have special circumstances. You could always have Jarvis Jones still play them.
Bob T.: Whatis the next NFL date we should mark on our calendar , the release of the 2014 schedule?
Ed Bouchette: Comp picks should come next week. Sked not until April
Guest: Hi Ed--Considering the lack of depth at almost every position, do you think the Steelers would like to trade down and get an extra pick or two?
Ed Bouchette: The more draft picks the merrier has to be their thinking now. However, you don't pass up someone you think would be great just to add draft picks.
INT Joey: Why not bring back Harrison? How about the very high likelihood that he simply can't play anymore?
Ed Bouchette: Why would that be a high likelihood? :Plus, have you seen their roster on defense lately? They don't have to bring him in to start; right now, they have virtually no backups at OLB.
Guest: Will james harrison still be a FA after june 1st. If the steelers truly felt they had a use for him could they call him and tell him to come back after june 1st?
Ed Bouchette: That is always possible. Strike a gentleman's agreement and sign him June 2. There may not be many players you could do that with. He is one of them.
Ed Bouchette: Thanks for another great chat. See you next Tuesday.