Jarvis Jones breaks up a pass intended for the Broncos' Owen Daniels during the AFC divisional playoff game Jan. 17 in Denver.
Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon, let's begin
Ken: How has Brown been recovering from the concussion? Any word on that?
Ed Bouchette: Haven't heard. He did pull out of the always vital Pro Bowl, as did Ben. I'm sure he'll be ready for the 2016 season.
Ed Bouchette: I never took roll call but many leave town to go to either their home towns or warmer climes. Often, ones who have been around and have families stay.
The Card Says Moops: Are all Steeler coaches in Alabama right now or do just some go. How much access do they have to the players while there?
Ed Bouchette: The Senior Bowl is probably the most attended event other than the combine in the off season. Coaches have all kinds of access and, unlike the combine, can watch players practice.
Ed Bouchette: And, yes, virtually every coach goes there.
Dave: Ed, how can a team be so efficient on two point conversions yet struggle so much to score TDs in the red zone?
Ed Bouchette: It is the great mystery. You would think they would not save their best plays for the 2-pointer, that scoring 6 from there would be more important. Also, it's 1 and done on the 2-point conversion as opposed to, say, second down from the 2.
Mike: Do they pay Bell next year? Last 4 teams standing didnt have a 1000 yard rusher.
Ed Bouchette: I think they will make him an offer this year, but he and his agents do not necessarily have to take it. It won't be a break-bank offer if they do.
Big City: Ed, Ray mentioned in his chat yesterday that they could save around $8M on the cap this season by cutting Timmons. With the depth at inside linebacker, it makes all the sense in the world to do just that and reallocate the money for a shutdown corner - the more important position and one of greater need. Thoughts?
Ed Bouchette: Do not assume if they have the money they will be able to sign a "shutdown corner.'' They would not be the only ones interested and there are not a boatload of them out there waiting. I would think they would ask Timmons to take a paycut before they would just release him. Now, maybe he would not agree to the paycut and they would wind up releasing him. It happened to James Harrison in 2013, when he then signed with the Bengals.
JoeSteel: Read a couple of articles this week about the Steelers finding safety help in-house. What are the realistic chances of Doran Grant or Cortez Allen playing safety next year?
Ed Bouchette: First, Cortez Allen is not going to be on the team, so nil there. If they are counting on "help" from their roster to bolster safety then the bar really is low.
Mike: Brown hold out coming?
Ed Bouchette: No. He did not hold out last year. I don't believe he will this year. I have predicted they will move $2 million from his 2017 salary into this year, as they did a year ago.
Alex from Ben Avon: Hi Ed, I know the Steelers will not spend big in free agency, but do you think they might acquire one starter (Weddle?) in a Mike Mitchell-like signing?
Ed Bouchette: They should look into it. They won't be the only ones.
Guest: Top defenses still are dominant in the playoffs. Why are we focused on having our offense carry us?
Ed Bouchette: Because that is where their talent is. As I wrote, the defense contributed and had to grow up in a hurry because of the injuries on offense and that should help them all in 2016.
Ben: Do you expect the refs to let Cam Newton slide feet first and then get back up and continue the play in the SB...or just Peyton?
Ed Bouchette: Well, since they did not throw any flags on the defense when the Broncos sacked Tom Brady, there is hope.
DMFH: Do you know what the source of this Baltimore-like hatred that the Bengals have for the Steelers comes from? I know they're a division rival, but it's never seemed like games against Cincinnati have had quite the same intensity as Baltimore games until now.
Ed Bouchette: Jealousy.
JamesinNYC: I like Jarvis Jones, but I don't love him. Should the Steelers try to sign him to an extension without picking up his 5th year option, which in my opinion basically says we love you?
Ed Bouchette: That is going to be a tough one. Yes, I think they should try to sign him to an extension first, but I don't see them coming to terms and then I don't see them picking up his bonus. So, it's on to 2016 to see what happens.
Ben: Is it strange that there was no sign of Bell, Golson, or Pouncey on the sideline all year, but Gradkowski seemed to be there, behind Roethlisberger's shoulder at every camera shot? What determines whether an injured player comes to a game or joins position meetings (assuming they are physically able)?
Ed Bouchette: Mike Tomlin determines that and as he told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com, it depends on what he feels those injured players can contribute. A vet QB like Bruce Gradkowski can probably help more than some of the other positioni players because he is used to seeing the whole field.
The Card Says Moops: I'm sure Foster will generate a lot of interest as a solid (but not spectacular) player, but I don't see an offer coming that the Steelers couldn’t beat if they so desired, what do you think they’ll do?
Ed Bouchette: I think they will try to re-sign him, but not for a ton of money. Then, it's up to Ramon.
ryan: which position do you think the steelers value more with the draft coming up DE or safety
Ed Bouchette: Cornerback.. Then safety.
Kelly: What are the chances the team drafts yet another QB this year?
Ed Bouchette: Always that chance, but the fact they no longer have 5th or 6th round picks that they traded away for nothing lessens that chance.
David: Has the Landry Jones era passed? Please say yes.
Ed Bouchette: You have to have a better solution. Until they get one, he's still here.
The Card Says Moops: Pouncey’s cap hits (according to overthecap.com) are $10.5M in 2016, $11.0M in 2017, $10.5M in 2018, and $7.9M in 2019. He'll be 30 at the end of that deal. It's not a lot of money for a Pro Bowl caliber player, but IF he misses significant time again in any of those years, at what point do they either restructure or decide to simply move on?
Ed Bouchette: Lot of ifs there. What if he never gets hurt again? You can only look at now and right now, they have no plans to do anything with him other than plug him back in at center.
Scott from Erie: Two consecutive 10+ win seasons and no other teams are interested in hiring anyone from the Steelers coaching staff...why do you think that is?
Ed Bouchette: How do you know there was no interest? If a coach is under contract, he cannot move without permission of his team unless it's for a head coaching job. It's my understanding that Todd Haley, for example, told people he was not interested in any head coaching jobs this year and so there was no publicly stated interest in him.
Sometimes when coaches from other staffs make lateral moves it's because their current team actually wants that to happen. I can think of a number of Steelers coaches who did that.
Tom: Defense did exactly what everyone wanted this year, low points, more turnovers and a ton of sacks. Why did it seem like press coverage was solely negative all year?
Ed Bouchette: I thought the press coverage on the Steelers was mostly positive, even in the out of town newspapers.
Swanny: Thoughts on DHB's 2016 campaign?
Ed Bouchette: Better, but he still drops too many passes. They'd like to have him back but at some point Sammie Coates should overtake him at No. 4.
JoeSteel: If Foster does sign elsewhere, is Cody Wallace a viable replacement for him or do you see it being someone else?
Ed Bouchette: It could be Kelvin Beachum if they re-sign him. Or, yes, someone else. Cody Wallace is not the best pass protector.
Scott from Erie: There were multiple reports last summer that Timmons was willing to renegotiate his contract. But on the odd chance he doesn't, who would be first up to replace him? Spence or Williams? Seems like Spence was the top backup but Williams is Timmons' official backup on the depth chart.
Ed Bouchette: I think Vince Williams fits the role better. He can play the buck linebacker spot and Ryan Shazier the mac, which was Timmons' job until Shazier came along and Timmons moved to the buck
Ed Bouchette: There, the draft and everywhere.
Alan: Steelers to search for secondary help in free agency?
Ed Bouchette: Answer to the previous first, followed by question.
Arnold: Will Dustin Vaughan backup Ben?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think so. I would think he's a fourth arm in camp with the outside chance to become No. 3
GSK: Do you see the Steelers being more active in free agency with less picks in the draft this year?
Ed Bouchette: They will have a little more money so yes, but remember a "little" more active does not say much compared to the past year.
Mikey: Are the Panthers playing with fire having their franchise QB running the read option against the Denver D?
Ed Bouchette: No, they're playing for a Super Bowl title.
Evan C.: Do you think Heath Miller will be back?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I do.
Sneezy: Did you shoot your wad convincing everyone to put the Bus into Canton last year, or will Faneca or Greene make the final cut?
Ed Bouchette: I think Kevin Greene will be elected this year after 10 years of waiting.
JimmyS: Ed - will the front office and coaches require Ben to slim down this offseason? With the opportunity this team has over the next few years to be great, you'd think Ben should be motivated to lose some lbs to prevent injuries and regain some of his mobility. It worked for Marcus Gilbert!
Ed Bouchette: Well, if Ben were planning to play right tackle, maybe he should think about that. Otherwise, I do not see why a few of you are so obsessed with his weight.
What does he weigh, by the way? And what do you think he should weigh? And where was he limited over the past 3 seasons because he was not at the weight you think he should have been?
Guest: Is Gerry going to cover the Combine in person again this year?
Ed Bouchette: Indeed. He's a lucky guy.
JoeSteel: What are you thoughts on trying to test the trade value of Wheaton? With Sammie Coats coming up and our other depth at WR, I think Wheaton could be expendable and bring in a 3rd or 4th round draft pick.
Ed Bouchette: The way the Steelers have traded lately, if I'm Art Rooney II I would ban all trades.
Guest: Late first round pick again..would you rather get a solid TE prospect who will start for 8 years or grab the 5th corner on the board?
Ed Bouchette: The Steelers usually do a good job picking in the first round, where they often go for value over position. I would stay with that philosophy and not reach just because someone has "cornerback" next to their name, if he's not judged worthy of the 25th pick.
ryan: Ive seen alot of mocks that had the steelers taking either eli apple or von bell from ohio state what are your thoughts on this
Ed Bouchette: I have not done enough film study on the cornerbacks yet and still must catch up with the juniors.
Chris: Were you surprised by how badly the Panthers beat the Cardinals?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I was, but if you are going to lose 7 turnovers, that's what happens.
Touchdown Joey: Ed, Tom Brady's connection with Gronk on 4th and 10 was one of the most impressive plays I've ever seen. What did you think of that one?
Ed Bouchette: I agree. I thought that drive was reminiscent of The Drive by Elway in Cleveland, albeit a little shorter. Two fourth-down completions. No matter what you think about the organization and what they've done in the past, Tom Brady is one hell of a quarterback.
me: They have not done well at evaluating talent in the secondary. Is that a scouting issue?
Ed Bouchette: I believe it's an organizational issue and it would seem to me at times they are not all on the same page there.
Andrew: Who gets to their ninth Superbowl first? Den, Dal, NE or Pitt?
Ed Bouchette: It's not so much who gets there, but who wins.
ryan: what are the odds of cam thomas, cortez allen, and antwan blake being back next year
Ed Bouchette: They may try to re-sign Blake, but again won't break the bank for him.
DMFH: Next Steelers HOFer?
Ed Bouchette: Kevin Greene, although he only spent 20 percent of his career here, they were probably his best years.
ERT: When does the league announce the dates/times for the 2016 schedule?
Ed Bouchette: Usually not until April.
The Card Says Moops: Could we get a 5th or 6th round pick for Sweezy Money?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think so. Maybe a 7th. He makes too much.
Ben: I think Cincy fans are still upset about Kimo's hit on Palmer. They thought they had a super bowl team
Ed Bouchette: Yeah, well, they thought they had one this year too.
JimmyS: That is my point. Ben is starting to look like a RT playing QB.
Ed Bouchette: You better get your head out of the trees because the rest of the league sees him as one of the best in the NFL. You will rue the day when he's no longer with them.
musclehead 2: Troy has had a year to rest his body. Could we bring him back to play safety and maybe to return punts. I always felt like he had something to offer in that department, they just never wanted to risk his injury.
Ed Bouchette: Lynn Swann has had 30-some years. Maybe he could do it.
Guest: How about the Burfict sack..if Ben has any mobility he moves to the right and Burfict momentum causes him to go right by him.
Ed Bouchette: Ben has been taking sacks like that since he was 22 years old. Get off it. Did you see Tom Brady take any sacks from Denver on Sunday?
ryan: do you think we make bradon boykin a offer
Ed Bouchette: They did not even want to play him after they traded a 5th-round pick for him. What makes anyone think they want him back? And I'm not saying that was Boykin's fault.
Steeler Bill: What the heck happened to Arizona?
Ed Bouchette: It sunk.
Steeler Bill: Good afternoon. Have you been following any of the NFL draft QBs? Any opinions of Lynch, Goff or Wentz?
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