Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to the mailbag. We’re in the thick of the preseason with only a couple more chances for those on the bubble to state their case. We’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!


Hey Alex,

With a crowded wide receiver room, would any of those who most likely will not make the 53, like Tevin Jones, have any trade value to a needy team (i.e. the Giants)?

Alex: Nah. None at all if you’re talking a guy like Jones. Only guys with an NFL resume – we talked about this issue with Josh Dobbs – have tangible value unless we’re talking a super low-level player for player deal. So if you’re dealing a WR, it’d be Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer, or Johnny Holton. I don’t think Switzer or Holton are really going to have any value. Maybe a 7th for Rogers but I don’t know if that’s even worth it.

Mr. Goodkat: Ok fine, I’ll be the one to ask:
Ryan Allen > Jordan Berry?

Alex: On paper, yes, probably. But money is a factor, Allen is going to have multiple suitors I imagine, and there is the factor of bringing in a new holder last-second for Boswell. It sounds minor, I know, but there is a risk of introducing new variables with your fragile kicker. Just something to consider.

Elyas Correa Nogueira: Hey, Alex.

If you could pair up any former first-round pick that didn’t lived up to the hype with a current NFL coach, who would it be?
Personally, I’d love to see what Reggie Bush would do in Sean McVay’s scheme.

Alex: Wow, that’s a great question. I don’t even know where to begin. You have to find a player who clearly had talent and some NFL success, like Bush, with a coach who could’ve brought the best out of him. Hard to argue with your Bush/McVay pick. Or even Bill Belichick. A better version of Kevin Faulk? I think I would agree with you.


How much do players on the practice squad count against a team’s salary cap? (if at all)

Could a team pay a practice squad member more to incent them to stay rather than sign with another team? Does this extra get charged to their cap?

Alex: I don’t know exact figures but yes, they count against the salary cap. The minimum is $7600 a week (at least, that’s what it was last year, it may have been slated to go up) per player. Sure, teams can pay a practice squad player a rostered salary if they want to keep them around. Or convince them to sign with their practice squad. That’s what the Steelers did to BJ Finney in 2015. Went from making $6600 a week to $25,588. Not a bad raise. And that’s common practice around the league.

Steel PAul: Alex, to this point based on how they’ve played all thru camp, how would you assess the two added players Baron and Nelson? Thanks!

Alex: Both have done well. Good camps for each player. Nelson will play more, he’s obviously not going to be in a rotation. But both were quality, valuable signings as the time and my opinion hasn’t changed now.

Jamie Barnhart: Hey, Alex.
How is Moncrief doing with that finger? It looked pretty ugly. That’s got to be painful for a couple months or so. Do they just splint, tape, glove and go, without issue?

Alex: Last I saw from him at camp was the splint he originally wore was removed. And that’s obvious considering he was back at practice. It might have still be taped up, I don’t remember to be honest. But he’s back in full so that’s a good sign. If it was that much of an issue, they wouldn’t have rushed him back. Could be a pain tolerance thing for awhile but shouldn’t effect his play. Or at least we can’t use that as an excuse.

jger15: Who is likelier to have a more impactful year (on a per snap basis) in your eyes — Tuitt or Hargrave?

Alex: Both players should have good years. But Hargrave has produced at a similar clip as Tuitt on less snaps so…probably him. Being in that contract year can’t hurt either.

steeltown: Any thoughts on the Team keeping 3 Safeties on the 53 (Dangerfield and M.Allen to squad) with the coaches getting a long look at Hilton at Safety and Sutton being so versatile, is it possible? Which opens up another roster spot for a LB or WR

Alex: I get what you’re saying and is there a chance? Yeah, I suppose. But it’s not likely. Moving Hilton to safety is like having to move an offensive linemen around when there’s an injury. You hate the extra moving parts. I prefer to plug ‘n play. Whoever you kept would have to have serious value on special teams. Dangerfield is a core guy, a good one, and the PP on the punt team. So you’d have to find his replacement and unless you keep Trey Edmunds on the 53, you’re putting someone there who hasn’t done it this year.

Not crazy about the idea but I wouldn’t be *shocked* by it because I get what you’re saying.


Hey Alex, here’s one you’ll like?…………………………

Who’ll be the DC next year? a) Butler, b) Austin, c) Someone else?……………..

Alex: I haven’t thought about it one but. Butler is in a contract year. And that’s when the team makes a move most times. We’ll see if Butler can solve the problems he couldn’t last year. No excuses this time around. It’s a faster, more versatile, and experienced roster with 1st round picks all over the room. Put up or shut up.

jeffjb292: Any chance Holton or Spencer end up on the practice squad?

Alex: Matthew Marczi reminded me Holton is not practice squad eligible. So no dice for him. Three accrued years. Spencer, eh, maybe, but if he can’t beat out Switzer, then what’s the point. There’s enough small, slot-ish, return capable receivers on the roster. They may go for a different body type like Tevin Jones or even Trey Griffey.

The Tony: Alex,
Where’s the Tight end article? lol.
Would you rather play the Patriots week 1 or sometime later in the season? The Pats tend to stumble a bit out of the gate.

Alex: It’ll be my “trade candidates” article with everyone lumped together. It probably won’t drop until Monday. Maybe Saturday. We’ll see if anything changes during the third game.

I don’t have a preference for when to play New England. I guess it’s nice to play them later in the year when the defense has gelled a little more (there’s no chance they win last year if they played them say, Week 3) but then you have injuries, more tape out there, etc. So it doesn’t matter to me. Steelers aren’t the best out of the gate either.

58Steel: Which of this year’s picks have surprised or disappointed you the most relative to your post-draft thoughts? Bush has obviously shown well, but that was expected… anyone else really stick out either way?

Alex: I try not to look that big picture yet. It’s a long process. Most are what I expected. Sutton Smith’s injury is an obvious one to note. Sucks we’ve barely gotten to see him yet. Isaiah Buggs has been super impressive. Layne hasn’t been great but I didn’t expect him to be. I knew he was raw and had issues coming out of MSU. But I don’t want to frame it in quite that way right now. Let’s see what happens after the season.

Efren Rodriguez Mora : Hi Alex, Regards from Mexico!
Do you think Devlin Hodges has the quickest release of all QB’s including Ben? I think so
And what do you like most about him?

Alex: Hodges does get the ball out quick but there’s a bit of a windup with him. I don’t think he has the quickest release though I’ve never timed it. Ben and Rudolph probably do. I just like Hodges’ mentality. He didn’t come to camp to let that be the pinnacle of his career. A story he can tell 20 years from now when he’s working as an accountant or whatever. He’s here to compete and win a job. He’ll make the tough throw, chuck it deep, take a chance, just let it rip. He’s not shrinking to the moment, he’s embracing each challenge, and I love that makeup in any player, especially a quarterback.

srdan: Alex I get that SD needs ads for revenue. But who clicks on articles “3 warning signs your dog is crying for help”?

Alex: Someone wondering if their dog might be crying for help, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

WeWantDaTruth: What is the nature of Haden’s injury? Anything to worry about or is the team just being e tra cautious?

Alex: Right foot/ankle. Nah, nothing to worry about. Team just being smart. He was moving around just fine at camp. Jogging, jumping, doing everything normal. Probably still hurts some but a very minor injury. Haden declared himself close to 100% earlier today. He’ll be out there Week 1.

Ross McCorkie: 

I’m going to the preseason game this week. Love when the Steelers come to Nashville and happy its the most meaninful preseason game that I get to catch.

What is the #1 thing I should be looking out for in game 3? What are you most excited about seeing?

Alex: Have fun Ross! It will be nice to watch the starters play. Good to – I assume – get Devin Bush back out there. How he works running the show with all the veterans against a team starting all their top guys too. That might be my #1 thing. Just defensively, seeing all the wrinkles of their sub-package football and how versatile they can be. That’ll be cool to check out.

That’s all for this week. Thanks guys!

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