Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to another edition of your Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. Like every Thursday, we’re here for the next hour to answer anything and everything on your mind. Thanks for stopping by.

To your questions!

Yough 61: Alex, are you able to forecast the void year dollars committed to the salary cap for next year? I saw a report that said the Steelers would have 75M in space but if there are void year dollars spoken for, that number would decrease I would think.

Alex: Yes, we are able to project out those numbers. I don’t have them off the top of my head right now but they are known. It’s just math, adding up the dead money.

They definitely don’t/won’t have $75 million in cap space next year. Not even close. Now that we know the cap ceiling is $208, Dave recently projected the team to be around $33 million in space. Of course, that’s with less than 40 players under contract and potentially no QB.

Here’s what Dave wrote:

“That would loosely have the Steelers at $33.2 million under a 2022 cap number of $208.2 million, with other work needing be done such as re-signing some of their own free agents and maybe even using the franchise tag.”

David Slezak: Hi Alex,
In the traditional base 3-4 base defense, does the right and left defensive end have different responsibilities or are they relatively interchangeable? In other words, are they different like a Buck and Mac MLB? Also do they change much when going to a nickel or dime?

Alex: Good question, David. I don’t think there’s a big difference. Even the Buck/Mack line is blurred…Robert Spillane said about as much today. The assignments and coaching points are generally the same, at least in the Steelers’ scheme. Just flipped. The concern about shifting guys around is just a comfort level thing. Maybe one guy is most comfortable in a right-handed stance and if he flips and plays left-handed, he doesn’t feel as good. Just like flipping left tackle/right tackle. Assignments themselves aren’t generally different. But one player might not be comfortable flipping to the other side.

I don’t think they change too much in sub. I mean, the alignment can change, someone is usually the one-tech in nickel/dime instead of being a 3T or 4i in base. So that changes. But I don’t think the assignments or coaching points are that different. It really just depends on what’s being called.

MudBanjo: Hi AK,
Latest news I saw on Malik Hooker was that he likes pittsburgh and the steelers. I expect theyre talking money now, but that will be the biggest hurdle to overcome. What are your thoughts on him as a player, how he fits scheme wise, and what hes worth?

Alex: I haven’t done a deep dive into his game. Obviously we don’t know what he’ll be like coming off a torn Achilles. To me, that’s about the most devastating “conventional” injury a player can suffer. Worse than a torn ACL. Helps the guy is only 24 but still. Pretty serious stuff.

Team just needs depth at safety. And they realize it. Bringing in Joseph, bringing in Hooker, signing Maulet (who I suspect will play more slot corner but can play FS). Need some protection if MInkah were to be unavailable, even for the short-term. So I’m all for it knowing the money is going to be cheap. Not like the Steelers can pay much anyway.

George Hareras: 

Hey Alex!

Watching Loki?

If so, thoughts on other Marvel shows so far?

Alex: Nah, I haven’t watched Loki. I never got much into Marvel or Star Wars or any of that stuff. To each their own, know a ton of people love it, but wasn’t something I ever got interested in. I don’t watch much of anything on TV these days and I don’t have Netflix. So not a whole lot of shows on my radar.

PghSDF: If Ju-Ju goes elsewhere next year, does that help Washington get a second contract?

Alex: It doesn’t hurt. But it’s not like Washington is going to get shifted and play slot. Unless they decide to do that with Claypool, Washington’s snaps and opportunity are still going to be capped barring injury. So he still may want to go somewhere else for a clearer role. We’ll just have to wait and see how this year goes. But he caught 30 balls last year and if he catches say, 25-30 again this year, it’s hard to blame him for wanting to go somewhere. He can go to a bad team, be their starting Z, and catch 50-60 like he did in 2019.

UK Steeler Fan Since 1963: Hey Alex: Thanks for the good work you guys do!
Who will be the PP on ST’S replacing Dangerfield? Best guess?

Alex: Thanks for hanging out with us this offseason. Good question. I’m not sure. Could be Killebrew if he’s going to become one of those core, central special teamers, though I don’t think he did much of it with the Lions. Have Watt and Snell as the wings. Certainly something I’ll monitor in camp.

MattSteelCurtain91: A malevolent force is bent on world domination! Your job is to choose 3 Steelers players from Steelers history! 1 to be offensive player and offense captain 2 to be defensive player and defense captain 3 to be special teams player and special teams captain. The rest of your team is The Tune Squad. Yes like space jam only football related. All tune rules n actions apply

Alex: Ha, thanks for the fun question. Defensively, I gotta go Mean Joe. He cornerstoned the Steelers’ dynasty. He can take on evil forces.

Offense is a little tougher for me to pick. Trying to think about the combination of toughness, leadership, and ability. Hines Ward? Seems like the guy who will save the world with a smile.

And special teams…I’m going with my guy Chidi Iwuoma. That’s a softball down the middle of the plate.

I’m not even sure how many other members I can have on my Tune Squad but I like those three to start me off.

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