Ask Alex: Steelers Mailbag

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Welcome back to your Pittsburgh Steelers’ mailbag. As always, we’re here for the next hour to answer whatever is on your mind.

To your questions!

Mackinstosh: With all the big changes on the team from the front office to the QB room and everything in between it seems like the Depot has been working overtime, which we love! Any plans for a nice summer vacation before training camp starts?

Alex: Appreciate that man but I think things have been too busy for a vacation. Arguably the biggest offseason we’ve had and things haven’t slowed down that much post-draft. New GM, the offseason program, Fitzpatrick’s extension, the Ogunjobi signing, and everything else. A lot of work to do. But thank you for your support.

Hey Alex,

If the Steelers decide they want to part ways with Rudolph by end of summer, and can’t find a trade partner, would they cut him outright for his benefit or keep him as QB3 over Oladokun?

Alex: It’s possible. Partially, of course, depends on how good (or bad) Oladokun looks. They won’t just hand out jobs. But they may recognize that Rudolph should get a chance elsewhere. Still, teams have to do what’s best for themselves and we saw what happened in 2019 how many QBs the team rolled through. So if they can’t trade him, I’d keep him. They can certainly afford it.

It is possible if Rudolph isn’t here, traded, cut, whatever, they only keep two QBs on the 53 and a guy like Oladokun on the practice squad. They did roll with just two QBs for a brief time after trading Dobbs in 2019 so I don’t think Tomlin is philosophically opposed to the idea, even if they often keep three arms on the main roster.

David Levesque: 

Hello Alex,

Do you think the Steelers correlated the Watt “hold in” with his injuries this season and wanted to avoid that with minkah? Tomlin and the Steelers seem of the old school mindset and want there players in football shape.

Why wouldn’t Colbert do these one year incentive deals? If Larry O performs very well you can either keep him or let him walk and get a comp pick? Does not seem like but downside involved.

Thanks for answering these Alex you are the best!

Alex: I don’t think that’s the primary reason. A lot of guys had soft tissue injuries last year. Alex Highsmith started the season with a groin injury and he practiced all of camp and was the summer’s best player. But it’s always nice to get the deal done before camp and to have your star player fully working with the team during the summer. That’s just good for the team, that’s just intuitive. No distractions, no storylines, no whispers over whether or not a deal will or won’t get done. You just go into camp happy and ready to go. And now the team can turn their attention to Boswell and Johnson. Those were the reasons a deal got done now.

Good question on the incentive deals. To my knowledge, Colbert’s never said why. I guess it’s a little cleaner to do deals without incentives. Cleaner from a cap perspective, you know exactly what that number is and there’s no concern about a guy needing/wanting to hit incentives late in the year and the sometimes weirdness that surrounds that. A guy who feels slighted because he thinks he’s getting screwed or something. Not that I think that’d happen in Pittsburgh but when someone’s money is on the line, guys can get a little paranoid. But yeah, the Ogunjobi deal is solid for the reasons you mentioned. He plays well and hits free agency and signs a deal similar to the $40 million Chicago was prepared to give him, Pittsburgh probably gets a comp pick.

Michael Stickings: 

Hi Alex,

What an off-season. Hope you can still get some rest at some point.

Anyway, I mentioned this in a comment to your post ranking Colbert’s draft classes, but would you consider a series, or at least a post, ranking, say his best and worst FA signings (and maybe also UDFA signings). I’m still interested in learning more about the history of Colbert-era Steelers, but more than anything your rankings posts have really helped highlight what went well, and what didn’t, over the past couple of decades for the Steelers. And I love reading your takes on all these players, many of whom, alas, I can’t even remember anymore.

Alex: Hey Michael! I’ve definitely considered some of that. I don’t know if I’d go all full-list form like I did with the draft picks. A little harder to compare and rank and I know those series can be a bit tiring and have diminishing returns. I don’t want to make it a 100% Colbert offseason and do some different stuff too. But it’s definitely on my radar.

Ray Istenes: If Healthy does Ogunjobi move into Tuitt’s spot on the D-Line? With Wormly your primary sub?

Alex: We’ll see. He profiles a bit more of a three-tech, interior kind of guy. Could dominate more of the sub-package reps with Wormley as the base end. But gotta get eyes on him and figure it out in camp.

The Tony: 

Hey Alex,

What has been your favorite move this off season and your least favorite. It can be a draft pick, free agent, not doing addressing a position etc…

Alex: Favorite move has been signing James Daniels. #1 offensive lineman I wanted this team to go after. Big upgrade to the front five, their best player, and that’s the kind of leap this team needed to make.

Least favorite…probably the back half of the draft. Heyward, Robinson, Oladokun. Didn’t really love any of those picks. Not a lot of ceiling/upside here and I loathe the two QB strategy. At least that isn’t the most consequential thing in the world.

Ichabod: Greetings Alex. Seems to me the WR room is stacked. I don’t get paying DJ big WR money unless he is a game changer. Is he a game changer? If so, how would you qualify that? If not, no reason to pay big money to him when we got these other guys. There is only ine ball to go around.

Alex: He’s a top 15 WR who can and probably will get better. I don’t know if that meets your definition or not. WR room looks good but there’s a lot of guys who have to prove it in Pittsburgh. Pickens, Austin, newcomers to Pittsburgh like Olszewski and Boykin. It all looks good but in terms of production, we gotta wait and see. I just like retaining proven, talented, hard-working players who are good dudes. And Johnson is all of those things.

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