Steelers offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum runs through drills during a minicamp at the Steelers' South Side practice facility.
Gerry Dulac: We will be starting our chat in about an hour so get your questions ready.....
Gerry Dulac: OK let's get started. Fire....
Guest: So it sounds like Harrison wants to return, but isn't yet sure if his body will let him. Is that accurate?
Gerry Dulac: That is accurate.
Kevin in Punxsy: Do you think that the Steelers will make a long-term contract offer to Beachum, or let him walk?
Gerry Dulac: It depends if Beachum wants to see how much he can get on the open market. I'm not expecting the Steelers to chase him with a big offer. I think they will wait and see
Tship: Good Morning Gerry and as always thanks for your time. Safe to assume they are looking at adding at least one starter on defense during free agency?
Gerry Dulac: I wouldn't say that was a safe assumption, and it would be somewhere in the secondary, not the front seven. I think there is a good chance, but I doubt it will be a big-ticket free agent. That has never been their style
Why cant the Card say anything other than Moops?: How are we in cap trouble with no high paid WR, RB, CB's, LT, & OLB's? Even RT and S are getting going rates and nowhere near overpaid. Where is our money going? Did we over-invest in non-critical positions where you need to find bargains such as C and DE?
Gerry Dulac: Nobody said they are in cap trouble. Yes, they are over the cap by a couple million, but it's not nearly as bad as some other years in the past. The Steelers have managed this situation for years and still remained among the top tier teams in the league. They know what they are doing, better than just about every team, if not all of them. But I will remind you that Ben R, Maurkice Pouncey, Lawrence Timmons and Antonio Brown -- all Pro Bowlers --- take up a big chunk of money.
Greg: Gerry, with the altering landscape of the NFL, and the fact that the nickle sub was used most often, I argue that a NT isn't near as important anymore. Am I wrong in thinking that?
Gerry Dulac: No, you are not wrong. That is a very logical conclusion. But that doesn't mean you do away with a nose tackle, if that's what you are suggesting
Guest: Gerry, already there are rumblings from Volvert not to expect a name free agent. But isn't this the year to go out and grab a big name free safety or corner, like Sean Smith, to really juice up the secondary event if that means not signing some middling players on their own team or restructuring Timmons contract? They can't rely on a first round DB even starting
Gerry Dulac: That is a yearly mantra on his part because the Steelers do not believe in spending on big-name free agents. However, just because he said that -- what else do you expect him to say publicly?? -- doesn't mean the Steelers won't go sign a DB in free agency. But they are not going ti pursue the biggest name and/or biggest ticket player on the market. But, I do agree -- this is the time to add a DB
Kevin in Punxsy: Is it possible that the Steelers coaching staff can't recognize DB talent? Boykin is 10th rated FA DB.
Gerry Dulac: Either they can't or the people who do those rating can’t
Nick: Jerry, I don't understand how they can wait to release someone after June 1st and save money. How does that work?
Gerry Dulac: It has to do with the financial calendar. Before June 1 counts toward the previous year, after June 1 counts toward the coming year. I think
Touchdown Joey: Gerry, thanks for the chat. Does James Harrison have any shot at the Hall of Fame?
Gerry Dulac: I don't think so. While a dominating player who made Pro Bowls and defensive player of the year, those came in a condensed period. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve tor be or won't be, but I'm guessing not.
Tom: Ben's window for a Super Bowl run is now. Plus they have a ton of young talent that will want paid in the next 2-3 years will limited to no cap space. Will a 1st round corner be truly be able to help next year or more likely be impactful in a few years when the team is past it's window? Would a polished TE like Henry or NT be more helpful NOW to put us over the top?
Gerry Dulac: Tom, you are the only person in America who thinks drafting a NT is a high priority. Last year, they played their base 3-4 defense (includes a NT) just 25 percent of the time. That hardly commands a NT as a high priority when he would be off the field three out of every four players. But I think you could see a tight end high, though not in the first round. As for drafting a CB high, in today's NFL, your No. 1 pick better come in and play right away, especially in such a horrible secondary. There will be no grooming him for future years
Why does the Card say Moops?: The Steelers never sign FA players because they don't want to "overpay", don't have any money tied up to skill positions (CB, LT, WR, RB) outside of QB, and their top talent is underpaid (A. Brown) or on rookie contracts (Bell, Shazier, J. Jones, DeCastro, Tuitt, Bryant). First, How is this possible? Second, Is their approach to avoid Free Agency really better? NE, Denver, and Baltimore all won SB's and were able to use FA and have cap space, right?
Gerry Dulac: They don't avoid free agency, they are just more judicious than others. After all, they signed Jeff Hartings, James Farrior, Ryan Clark, Mike Mitchell in free agency. Even Wil Wolford. It is really hard to argue with their approach. I guess six Super Bowl titles isn't enough to convince you they do it better than anyone. They are not a bunch of rubes.
Tom: Back in 2008 the Steelers were in cap trouble trying to keep veterans around. We are in cap trouble now and our top talent are rookies or bigtime bargains (Shazier, LeVeon, Tuitt, AB, Bryant, Wheaton, Beachum/AV, Jarvis J). Are we facing a mass exodus of talent in the next few years?
Gerry Dulac: The problem with having too many good players, especially those who are the best at their position in the NFL, is you can't keep em all. But I ask you, have you ever seen a mass exodus of players with the Steelers? I'll give you the short answer -- No.
Each year brings new happenings, new decisions and, don't forget, new young players. That's how the Steelers do it. Of the nine players you mentioned, only four are true keepers -- AB, Shazier, Bell and Tuitt. The rest will come and go
Leaper: Best offense in the league this year?
Gerry Dulac: It was the best last year. Why not?
Leaper: Who would you most want to keep, Beachum or Foster?
Gerry Dulac: Left tackle is always the most valued position on the line, so given the choice of a starting left tackle or starting left guard, I, along with 32 teams, will choose the tackle. There is a reason why guards are devalued in this league. Teams think, with few exceptions (DeCastro), they can place anyone there
Kevin in Punxsy: How do you think that the Steelers will handle the Timmons situation, re: his huge salary cap hit? Thanks.
Gerry Dulac: They're going to have to do something with his salary, but it's tenuous because there aren't years remaining on his deal. He counts $15.1 million this year. They will have to slice and dice
Leaper: Do you honestly think they'll take a corner in the first round?
Gerry Dulac: If a fgood one is there, yes. Or a safety. But, as I've said many times, depends who is on the board. They wont reach for a corner if they have a higher grade on another position player at No. 25
Leaper: Safe to assume Golson will start week one?
Gerry Dulac: Probably a safe bet
JamesinNYC: Just my opinion if Terrel Davis makes it in to the HOF James Harrison should make it.
Gerry Dulac: Agreed. And Terrel Davis was a product of a system. Just look at the guys who replaced him and what they did -- Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary
Newman: They thought Antwon Blake was a starting CB in this league. Maybe some of them are rubes?
Gerry Dulac: Pay the man!
Kevin in Punxsy: I think that "Why does the Card say Moops" should definitely win the prize for longest, hardest question to read and understand. Your thoughts?
Gerry Dulac: What's that? I'm still reading his question....
Rob: Do you think Harrison's Hall of Fame odds increase substantially with another ring?
Gerry Dulac: Perhaps, but, at this point, no. But I'm not a voter.
Brian: There is always debate about how the Steelers manage the cap. Do you think it will change if Colbert or Omar Khan moves on? It's crazy how far below some teams are below the salary floor.
Gerry Dulac: And how many of those teams have six Super Bowls? How many of those teams would love to have "down" years where they are 8-8. The Steelers have three 12-win seasons, an 11-win seasons and two Super Bowl appearances under Mike Tomlin. I would say that qualifies as knowing what they are doing.
My Card says Happy Birthday: The Steelers added one of the top corners (slot) in the league last year and didn't play him. Why does anyone even think they are going to get a high priced cornerback in FA?
Gerry Dulac: Once again, who said he was one of the top slot corners in the league??
Jack Splat: What's the chance of letting Timmons go if they can not restructure hin? Williams and Spence Plan B?
Gerry Dulac: Something has to be done, is all I'll say.
Rob: It seems like with the advent of the salary cap it is impossible for a team to field a complete team. Is there an area of the team the Steelers could stand to sacrifice a little for the sake of building up the weak link?
Gerry Dulac: You are 100 percent correct Rob. That's part of what I mean when I always refer to today's NFL. You pay your core guys and hope you can fill other spots with younger, cheaper players. You can't keep everybody
Gerry Dulac: That's all the time we have today kids. Ill be at the NFL combine next week. We'll chat them.
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