Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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As always, welcome back to your Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. We’re here for the next hour to answer anything and everything on your mind as we begin training camp and start the 2020 season. Even if it doesn’t really feel like it.

To your questions!

Christopher Poknis: Hi Alex!
For this conversation let’s say the 2020 season is cancelled. How does this work for Bud Bud Dupree’s franchise tag, Cam’s need for a new contract, and TJ? Contract wise do we proceed like the season actually happened, or do we go into 2021 like contracts are still in 2020 status? Thanks

Alex: I’m am not an expert on cap/contract related matters and even having this conversation is uncharted territory for those who are. But my understanding is that all contracts would toll if there isn’t a season. Meaning, like you said, what your contract was in 2020 would carry over to 2021. As if 2020 didn’t happen (because it didn’t in this scenario).

Just in the way the two dozen players who have opted out of 2020 see their contracts toll until next year. So I imagine that’s how it will go should the season shut down. Still optimistic the NFL will play Week 1. What happens from there is anyone’s guess.

Thanks for the question. Pretty quiet here today.

Lukesaenz: If COVID stops the 2020 season in its tracks, what are you gonna be doing with the rest of your 2020?

Alex: That’s a good question (and sorry for the late replies, DISQUS is just showing these comments in my feed now). Aside from crying, I don’t know what I/we are going to do. Probably much of the same as we’ve done the last three months. Find something to write/talk about. But it would obviously be crushing if the season was postponed/cancelled.

Tasso222222: What do you think about Tuitt’s statement earlier this week about screwing anyone who wants him to kneel? Not politically but from a team perspective. Cam said earlier this year it would be team decision and everyone would do the same thing. Is it a problem that Tuitt went rogue in such an overt way? Seems like it has the potential cause disharmony among the team for people who feel as strongly as Tuitt does but in the opposite regard. Personally, I was disappointed in the off handed way it came across using the words “screw anyone”. It certainly his right to do as he pleases as it relates to this but seems very dismissive and confrontational.

Alex: I’m not sure. You’re right, Heyward/Pouncey have said whatever they do needs to be a unified front. That issue probably already existed with Villanueva and his military background so I don’t know what they’re going to do during the Anthem. Perhaps some sort of compromise, like you’re seeing from MLB players. Holding a black ribbon but mostly standing.

Do I think it will be have real impact in the locker room beyond the decision of what to do for the Anthem? I don’t. They got through the 2016 saga. They’ll manage this too.

Pghomer: Hey Alex, it might not be the way we want it…but football seems on the horizon. Thanks for working so hard to get us through these doldrums….
I’m wondering what it would take regarding the NCAA this fall for the NFL to take over Saturdays on a regular basis for programming? I think the best thing might be for the college season to be completely scrapped so the NFL can negotiate the broadcasting rights and recoup lost revenue for the players and the league. It also might help the Steelers to be able to keep

Alex: Yeah, for that to happen, college football would have to be cancelled and the NFL would have to swoop in. But I think we’re pretty late in the process for scheduling changes. College football is going to happen for at least the start of the year. If they cancel, it’s September/October and the NFL can’t start moving around or bumping up their games. That just creates more travel/logistic headaches for teams already dealing with a million of them. I don’t really see this scenario playing out.

Pghomer: If I’m alone here maybe I can sneak another one on.
If Wormley is such a good run defender [and I believe he is] what prevents him from being effective if he were asked to rotate in at NT? It seems he is being dismissed out of hand, with the exception of what Scott has written on the site, that he can’t/won’t play NT. I’m not trying to argue the point I’m wondering what would prevent him from being effective in that role.

Alex: He could play that role. The basic tools are there. Strength, leverage, ability to defeat blocks. He is a little tall for the position at 6’5. Usually like squattier bodies in the leverage war against guards/centers so that hurts a guy like Wormley. And he simply hasn’t played the position very much before. Granted, neither has Alualu but on paper, he’s a better fit because he’s a little shorter and a known guy to the team. Less of a transition since he knows the scheme/playbook/coaching staff.

If there was an emergency though, I think Wormley would be used as a NT. Maybe even the default backup NT if McCullers doesn’t get a hat on gameday.

PghDSF: Do you know what Matt Canada did with X’s and O’s that he would bring to the table?

Alex: I wrote about his background shortly after he was hired.

It’s just nice having a QBs coach. Such a crazy year last year, Fichtner trying to pull double-duty, and I think the Steelers realized that was a mistake. It was easier with Ben because you don’t really have to coach him. You work with him obviously but he’s like a QB coach for himself. And he and Fichtner had a strong relationship. When Fichtner is trying to work with the whole offense and the revolving door of new guys (Rudolph, Duck, Lynch) the issue of not having a QB coach became magnified. Having a QB coach to work and protect your investment of Ruodlph is an overdue decision.

David Shoff: Alex, are you concerned as I am about Ben getting on the same page with his new receivers? I include Washington, Johnson, and Ebron as new, or relatively new to Ben. He seems to only have a lot of experience with Juju and McDonald. And how do you get on the same page, and be careful with Ben’s elbow at the same time?? That’s my main concern.

Alex: I’m more of the mindset of making sure Roethlisberger is healthy and his arm feels good before anything else. Get past that and I consider those as “good problems to have.” But I get your point. He’s throwing to a lot of new faces and the lack of an offseason only makes matters worse.

But Ben’s been around those guys, obviously watched the offense, went through camp with them last year and six quarters of the season so they’re not brand new either, aside from Ebron/Claypool. It’s something that will have to be worked on and there could be an issue early in the year but Roethlisberger has an idea of what those guys can do. In some ways, getting to sit back and watch probably provided a different perspective of them than usual. He was looking at them from a pure evaluation standpoint, like a coach.

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