GREGORY SMITH FROM GAINESVILLE, FL: It seems most members of the media are focused on Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Pickett, but they don’t typically mention Chris Oladokun when talking about the quarterback competition. I actually like him and think he has just as much chance of making the team as the rest. Am I wrong?
ANSWER: You’re wrong, or if you prefer a gentler approach, you’re overly optimistic to believe that a seventh-round draft pick from an FCS program (South Dakota State) has as good of a chance to make a 53-man roster in the NFL as a Pro Bowl quarterback (Mitch Trubisky), a rookie No. 1 pick (Kenny Pickett), and a young veteran with a winning record as a starter (Mason Rudolph). I’m not trying to paint the picture that Chris Oladokun has no luck, but he clearly is the developmental player of the quartet and most likely will need time to prove he belongs in the NFL. The other three players have the background and the bonafides to compete for the starting job in 2022. It’s possible Oladokun will develop and have a nice career in the NFL either as a starter or as a backup, but putting him on the same level as Trubisky , Rudolph, and Pickett this summer isn’t an accurate way to look at things.
SHAWN BITTNER FROM JACKSONVILLE, NC: Stephon Tuitt has one of the largest contracts on the current roster. I believe that releasing him would incur a cap hit in dead money that almost requires the Steelers to be patient and let this play out. What would the cap ramifications be if they did opt to release him?
ANSWER: For the sake of clarity, this submission was received before Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire was announced, but I still am going to deal with the basis of the question, which has to do with the salary cap hit the Steelers will absorb now that he’s no longer on the roster. In 2022, the Steelers will be charged a dead cap hit of $9.685 million, but they will save the $9.05 million in salary he was due this season. That leaves a net loss to the cap of $610,750 in 2022. Because of the restructured contract that included three voidable years the team worked out with Tuitt to help with their dire 2021 cap situation, the Steelers’ cap will be charged $4.755 million in dead money in 2023, $1.585 million in dead money in 2024, and $1.585 million in dead money in 2025. Another potential variable in all of this has to do with whether Tuitt will be designated a post-June 1 retirement. If he is, then the dead cap charge will be halved in 2022 (from $9.685 million to $4.8425 million, with the balance of the other $4.8425 million to be charged to the cap in 2023). In that case, the voidable years charges will remain the same.
JAMES PARKER FROM SPRINGVILLE, AL: Please explain the rules regarding unsigned draft picks participating in OTAs, minicamps, etc. Are they under some temporary contractual agreement? What if they get hurt, or are still in school? Also, if and how do they and everyone else get paid during the preseason process, or do they just have to live off signing bonuses or their parents?
ANSWER: Draft picks who have yet to sign their rookie contracts typically buy insurance to protect themselves from injuries incurred during offseason workouts, and I suspect a number of the ones who have already signed their rookie contracts do so as well. Once training camp opens, players receive a stipend, the amount of which is based on their years of service in the NFL. Also, during the training camp process, food and lodging costs are paid by the team. Once the regular season begins, players who earn a spot on the 53-man roster will begin to receive their salary in the form of weekly game checks, and those who don’t make the 53-man roster but are added to the practice squad begin receiving that money on a weekly basis.
JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: Is Chris Boswell the most accurate placekicker in Steelers history? With the signing of Nick Sciba (NCAA record holder for career field goal percentage), I wonder if he’s going to give Boswell a run for his money? Do you know what his longest field goal is?
ANSWER: Chris Boswell is the most accurate field goal kicker in franchise history (88.3 percent), and that success rate makes him the fourth-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history. Boswell also has made 100 percent of his field goal attempts in the postseason. With all due respect to Nick Sciba, he cannot beat out Boswell this summer. Sciba converted 89.9 percent during his career at Wake Forest, and his longest field goal was 57 yards. Boswell’s longest is 59 yards.
BILL MATTALIANO FROM SOLON, OH: In 1933, were the Steelers (Pirates) a team started from scratch or were they moved from somewhere else? Do you have an idea of what it cost to start a team in 1933?
ANSWER: Art Rooney Sr. paid the franchise fee of $2,500 to join the NFL in 1933, and his franchise (then nicknamed the Pirates, to become the Steelers in 1940) started from “scratch.”
BOB DUFF FROM ARLINGTON, TX: I am excited that the Steelers will be holding training camp back on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe after a two-year absence. I would like to plan a trip north to see the team practice. Can you tell me when the Steelers will release the training camp schedule, and which practices are open to the public?
ANSWER: The Steelers will be releasing their entire training camp schedule very soon. In fact, I would be checking Steelers.com on the morning of Monday, June 6 if I were you.
KURT CARMEL FROM BALTIMORE, MD: I’m getting excited for the season and looking forward to seeing how the team prepares for 2022. Is there any particular buzz in the building that you would describe as exciting from a player or coach perspective? In other words, what are they most excited about?
ANSWER: I understand the eagerness fans have at this stage of the summer for news about their favorite football team, but it’s just not possible to trust opinions formed when the players and coaches are still in the relatively early stages of getting to know one another. A lot of things you might think you’re seeing cannot necessarily be trusted because it’s not real football until the pads go on, and that won’t happen until August at Saint Vincent College. There will be plenty of time to analyze and dissect everything between the start of camp and the opener on Sept. 11 against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
CHRISTIAN MARGRIS FROM OLIVET, FRANCE: I’m amazed how many questions you receive that could be easily answered by just going to Google instead of submitting them to you. I’m also grateful that you take the time to answer such questions, because the answers often contain some additional information I wouldn’t have thought of checking if I looked for the answer by myself.
ANSWER: Don’t give away my secret weapon (Google), and thanks for noticing that I try to make things more interesting, or in some cases, humorous.