The Steelers' Heath Miller pulls in a pass for a touchdown against the 49ers' Antione Bethea on Sept. 20 at Heinz Field.
Ed Bouchette: Good afternoon, let's begin
kjacksonpgh: Ed, were you surprised that Heath Miller decided to retire?
Ed Bouchette: I was. I thought he had another year in him, as he did in his contract. Often, players have to be dragged into retirement, especially with a $4 million salary. As he was during his playing days, Heath again proved he is special.
kjacksonpgh: Ed, most mocks and fans seem to believe that the Steelers are capable of drafting secondary help early. Shouldn’t they continue to find pass rushers or a rotational DE to improve the front 7 instead of whiffing on secondary help?
Ed Bouchette: I assume we are talking about the first round here. The Steelers have had remarkable success overall picking in the first round in this century. I believe one reason is they draft by their board rankings more than they do need. I would think they will continue to do that in the first round. I would think drafting a defensive end in the first round would not be a priority, though, not with Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. You are not looking for a rotational player in the first round.
Adam Why is it that when a player chooses to retire before the end of his contract, he still counts for dead money the following year? Why don't they have to return the prorated bonus they recieved when signing the contract?
Ed Bouchette: Technically, they are supposed to return that money. But if that were the case, no one would retire, they'd all wait to be cut. that is entirely up to the team and I am sure that Heath's agent worked that out with the Steelers -- that there would be no payback -- before he retired.
Adam Will the Steelers resign Gay? It looks like he may find more money elsewhere?
Ed Bouchette: I do not know where you get your insight on that because I have neither seen nor heard such a thing. Plus, how do you know what the Steelers are willing to pay him? I believe they will try to sign him, although that does not mean they will
Guest When the replacement for Heath is discussed why is Jesse James never really given much of a chance. No much upside from what we've seen so far? Or just still a big question mark?
Ed Bouchette: Both. He was a later draft pick, plus he does not have much of a resume. He improved as the season moved along and when he got more chances, so there is hope from them that he can continue to do that. At this point, though, I don't believe you can in any way say he can adequately replace Heath Miller. Maybe no one can and that's just the way it will be.
Guest Isn't Spaeth a UFA? If so, they're getting pretty thin at the position.
Ed Bouchette: Yes, but these things tend to work themselves out.
The Card Says Moops Peter King thinks the Patriots should get their first round draft pick back. Is he right?
Ed Bouchette: It is Peter King's opinion, no right or wrong. Since the NFL is still pursuing the case against them and Tom Brady over the deflated footballs, I would say there is little chance they get their picks back.
Ephram Any idea whether Tommy Maddox returned for their SuperBowl XL anniversary?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I believe he did.
kjacksonpgh Ed, how would you feel about the Steelers drafting a TE in the 1st since there probably won’t be a CB worth selecting at their position?
Ed Bouchette: That's always possible. There are other positions that are possible as well, in the offensive line and at safety.
Thad where was the big scoop on Miller's retirement, Ed? Some beat writer...
Ed Bouchette: The entire NFL was scooped on that one.
Touchdown Joey Any reason they haven't been more aggressive in trying to sign Beachum? He was a top 10 tackle in the league after all.
Ed Bouchette: They tried to sign him last year before the season and could not come to terms. I would think they will let him experience free agency. They have re-signed some players under those circumstances.
Guest Do you think the Steelers encouraged Heath to retire?
Ed Bouchette: No, there was no hint of that and I have been assured by sources that it never happened.
Adam Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but with Miller's departure dont you think that the Steelers should go for someone like Hunter Henry in the first round? We have been dealing with sub part CBs for years and the scouts havent hit on any CBs in years. Why not go for something closer to an impact player now?
Ed Bouchette: They also have not drafted a cornerback in the first round for years, not since Chad Scott. Maybe if they do, he will be a "hit."
Chestar Where does Timmons land when they cut him?
Ed Bouchette: Do you have inside information that they will?
Guest What was the food like when you were in Japan? What snacks were served at the game?
Ed Bouchette: Let's see, the Steelers played in Japan in 1996, 20 years ago this summer. I have a hard time what I had for dinner yesterday. I can tell you that it was hot and crowded in Tokyo, if you plan to go this summer.
dave Now that they have some more cap space with Heath retiring, do you think they'll still restructure Timmons, Ben, or anyone else?
Adam Will the Steelers hold onto COrtez since we are so thin at the position and cutting him won't save that much in Cap space? DO you buy that it was solely injuries that kept him from being productive?
Ed Bouchette: Cutting Cortez Allen will save them $4.4 million in cash and about $4 million in cap space if he is a June designation. I would be surprised if he is on the team in 2016. He has done nothing to make them want to keep him.
Adam DO you expect the Steelers to trade down at some point to regain the lost picks?
Ed Bouchette: No
Jake in Raleigh With Cromartie being released yesterday, do you see him being another strong veteran candidate for the Steelers to sign or do you think he is no longer worth the money he might command?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think he will command much money. He no longer is the player he once was, not even close. So, no, I do not think he is either a strong candidate or a candidate for the Steelers.
Guest Ed, how come you make Gerry cover the combine every year, but you get to go to the Super Bowl?
Ed Bouchette: Gerry enjoys the combine, I do not.
Chilly With them needing all of the cap space they can get, why wouldn't they go after Heath's prorated bonus? It's a no brainer
Ed Bouchette: Because, as I mentioned earlier, players would never retire with time left on their contracts. The same occurred with Troy Polamalu, who had two years left on his deal.
Adam Do you think we should let Beachum walk? Villanueva filled in nicely and could develop. Plus we can put money in other areas instead.
Ed Bouchette: I do not think they will offer Kelvin Beachum a large contract. Would they like him on the team? Certainly. But sometimes you just have to move on because of the cap.
Adam Is it even possible to "buy low" on Bell as some from ESPN have suggested? Would he accept a contract extension where he is paid 10 million/year?
Ed Bouchette: I would not think a $10 million average per year would be considered "buying low."
Guest Ed, this is a very boring time of year without football. Any suggestions for non-football, non-sport hobbies?
Ed Bouchette: Stamp collecting
Watsa Katch Would you want to be in the interview room with MT at the combine?
Ed Bouchette: Heavens no.
Guest When will they find out if they're getting any compensatory picks?
Ed Bouchette: They usually reveal those during the NFL meetings in March. I would not hold out much hope for the Steelers getting anything more than a 7th
Jake in Raleigh Out of curiosity, how exactly do you choose the questions to answer? Is it just based on your own preference?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, my preference.
guest Hi Ed, Pick #25 rolls around the top TE on the Steelers board and their top CB/S is still available, who do you pick?
Ed Bouchette: It depends on which player they have ranked higher. If it's even close, cornerback.
Ed Bouchette: Thank you for another great chat. See you next Tuesday.
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