The Steelers' Brandon Boykin waves to fans as beer cans fly onto the field after the Steelers defeated the Bengals in an AFC wild-card playoff matchup in January.
Gerry Dulac: Good morning. We will start our chat in just a few minutes so get your questions ready.
Gerry Dulac: OK, let's get our chat started. Fire away....
Fix the secondary: Thoughts on Clemson's CB Mackensie Alexander at pick #25?
Gerry Dulac: Nice player. Size is decent but questionable, and I think that's what the Steelers are trying to get away fro,. He's 5-11, 195, which is bigger than every corner they have aside from Cortez Allen. But I think they would like to get corners who are in the 6-1 range. Not saying they would shy away from corner like Alexander. But too early in the process to know if they really like him
Guest: PFF has rated Boykin as the 10th best CB available in free agency. Why did he have some much trouble getting on the field for Pittsburgh?
Gerry Dulac: Because he spent too much time on the field for Pittsburgh.
And what that means is he had trouble staying on his feet and spent too much time on the ground. That being said, they thought he performed pretty well late in the season.
Guest: Do you think there has ever been a free agent worth 2 first rounders?
Gerry Dulac: No. Because what team would let a guy like that go??
dave: Were the front office and coaching staff on the same page regarding Boykin? He didn't get much playing time, but I thought he did a decent job when he was in there.
Gerry Dulac: That's a tricky question to quantify because the Steelers have done a very good of GM, scouts and coaches always being on the same page, better than most if not all NFL teams. But there had to be some amount of disconnect between what the Steelers thought they were getting and what they actually got w Boykin. But, based on the people from Philly that I talked to at the time about Boykin, all agreed that he was a solid slot corner, though maybe not starting material.
Thad: Ed yesterday said he wasn't a fan of Tommy Maddox because of the way he left the team, what are your thoughts on him?
Gerry Dulac: I personally liked Tommy but he was not always the most well-liked guy when he left
me: Do you think they'll be looking for a TE in the first 3 rounds of the draft?
Gerry Dulac: That is a very real possibility. They considered one last year, and they know they might be lucky to get one more year out of Heaaaaath.
Guest: Have you ever heard of a Free Agent who doesn't want to sign with Pittsburgh because he dislikes the organization? (Like a former Raven or Bengal)
Gerry Dulac: Never. Most free agents know about the Steelers reputation for being a GREAT place to play. From the top of the organization on down. The only objection might be the amount of money they would receive from the Steelers as opposed to some other organization that is desperate and tosses money around like Christmas presents.
Guest: If Ben retired tomorrow, where would he rank on the list of Steeler greats?
Gerry Dulac: As a QB, No. 2 behind Bradshaw. If you're asking if he's a first ballot Hall of Famer, my guess would be no, based on the way most national "experts" around the league don't even list him among the top 5 QBs now
Guest: If Bryant fails another drug test, will he be suspended for a year?
Gerry Dulac: Yes. And you can probably expect him to be suspended from the Steelers -- for good.
Thad: I see Ed said that Shamarko will probably be cut, do you agree?
Gerry Dulac: I don't know that he will be cut, but I think they have given up looking at him as Troy's replacement, which is how they envisioned him going into 2015. It won't surprise me if they cut him, though.
Leo Lee: I see lots of speculation about Timmons either getting cut or taking a pay cut, has he really declined that much? I didn't notice a drop off
Gerry Dulac: I think that is people who don't really know what they are talking about. But let me say this: They will definitely have to restructure Timmons' deal again to make it more cap friendly.But I don't think he is in the Casey Hampton/James Harrison category where they will make him take a pay cut or cut him. They did that with Hampton and he agreed to the cut to return for one final season. Harrison, conversely, wouldn't take the pay cut and the Steelers released him after the 2013 season. Funny how that worked out, though.
One more thing about Timmons: He started the season slow because he missed the entire preseason with a turf toe injury. That injury bothered him early in the regular season. But from the middle of the season on, he performed no differently than he did last season when he was named to the Pro Bowl.
I think some people see that he came off the field when the Steelers used their dime defense (six DBs), but that's because they now had Ryan Shazier, who is younger and much faster, to use in coverage. But they use the dime defense a small, small percentage of the time.
StillerInIowa: How will the Steelers evaluate the worth of L. Bell? Can they make him a huge offer even though he hasn't finished the past two seasons? He is a FA after next year...correct?
Gerry Dulac: Yes, his contract as a No. 2 pick is done after 2016. I think they will evaluate Bell for the player he is, which is arguably the best RB in the NFL. And it's unfair to say simply he failed to finish each of the past two seasons when he was injured in the season finale of the 2014 season. I can't think of a player who was not only the best at his position on the team, but was the best at his position in the league, that the Steelers let get away. Especially when that player is only 24 and will be 25 after the 2016 season.
Zack: Is there a real chance the Steelers bring in Eric Weddle or Michael Griffin for a visit?
Gerry Dulac: I think Weddle is a possibility because Mike Tomlin has always spoken so very highly of the guy.
Al from Ben Avon: Hi Gerry, love your work and thanks for the chat. What are the odds we can re-sign Gay, Foster & McLendon? We absolutely need Gay and I'd hate to be forced to go guard or NT early in the draft to fill a hole...
Gerry Dulac: I think they intend to re-sign Gay and McLendon and would like to bring Foster back. But that will be up to Foster and what he explores in free agency. And what happens with Beachum. Know this: The Steelers, or any team for that matter, can't possibly keep all five starters on the OLine. They already got three keepers: Pouncey, DeCastro (who will be re-signed) and Gilbert. At best, only one of the other two -- Beachum or Foster -- will be re-signed
Toni: What's the deal with Troy boycotting all team events? What in the world does he have to be mad about? He was a liablility in coverage for two years, agree?
Gerry Dulac: I agree. If there is some acrimony, it's because Troy is upset he was released. Of course, he's free to sign with another team if he still wants to play. But he found out what Hines Ward found out -- other teams watch film too. They know they what they see.
Stephen: Are the Steelers scouting / watching the CFL free agency? Yesterday was the 1st day and lots of activity.
Gerry Dulac: Believe me, they watch everything.
Steve: Saints are looking for a kicker, do you think we could get a 5th or 6th round pick for suisham?
Gerry Dulac: I think they can.
Tony: Can you provide more info on Troy's animus towards the team?
Gerry Dulac: See above answer
dave: Ed's blog mentioned that the Steelers will be in pretty good shape regarding the salary cap. Does that make it any more likely that they'll spend money on free agents?
Gerry Dulac: Of course it does. And the fact that, right now, they don't have a fifth and sixth round choice makes the possibility even greater
Thad: Why cut Shamarko, he's very cheap depth (although he doesn't even get on the field when someone's hurt)
Gerry Dulac: Correct
Brian: When free agency starts on March 9th, why do the Steelers wait several days to bring in their desired signees? If they know they want a guy even if he's not a big name, why the wait?
Gerry Dulac: They didn't wait very long with Mike Mitchell.
Alan: Any free agent names at corner or safety we should keep an eye on?
Gerry Dulac: I will have a better idea in another week or two
Gerry Dulac: Well, kids, that's all the time we have today. We will catch up again next week.
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