Ask Ed: Any Interest in Browns Castoff?

By Ed Bouchette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 years ago

Good morning,

After a week off, some refreshing questions to answer in the latest Ask Ed. And remember, my chat today at 1:30 at

--- YOU: Think Whitner will be of interest to Steelers and vice versa?

ED: As you can see there has been no rush for anyone to sign strong safety Donte Whitner after the Brown released the three-time Pro Bowler. Whitner is 30, certainly not over the hill, but I believe the Steelers want to get younger at that position and they may believe that Whitner is just not that big of an upgrade over what they have. He is worth a look, though, and I am sure they are discussing it.

--- YOU: What, generally, is the routine when a NFL FA visits the Steelers? Mathews signs but Crawford doesn’t. Were they both offered contracts, does the team put them through any kind of strength/agility drills or just medical exams? Does a visit, i.e. Harris, indicate a willingness to sign and then the Steelers just need to agree with the player/agent on price?

Which party decides, “It’s not as good fit?”

ED: Unlike rookie visits, when the Steelers bring in a veteran free agent as those you mention, they usually have a real interest in him. Sometimes, though, they have to clear up a few things such as his medical – does he have an old injury they want to look at or a new one they need to examine? If so, they must determine if they are willing to sign a player who has that history. Other than that, the visit generally is a series of interviews with coaches. They do not work him out. More often than not, if a player visits and then leaves, it means they will not sign him, although there are exceptions. And, yes, price can be a deterrent.

--- YOU: Why are some of the Steelers fans so dumb every year around this time? The Steelers say they take the best player available, but most of us realize that this is not binary. When it’s their turn to pick, they obviously combine need with rank. They pick 25th, so 24 players are gone before they pick. Maybe #1 best available is a qb and they decide they don’t want that. Or maybe a cb/safety is #5 on their best available because #1-4 are qbs and rbs and they are not picking one of those in the first round either.

So the reality is that they might take the #5 best player available to address their #1 need. Or maybe they pick a player that addresses their #2 need in the first round because the best available player that fits their #1 need is ranked as the #50 best player available and that would be a stretch to fill a need.

So can the small minority of people who don’t get it stop asking the stupid questions and realize what is going on? I’m feeling old and crotchety all of the sudden and we have another month of this!

ED: Not every football fan is created equal. And how would you expect me to keep my chats up if all questions were logical ones? Seriously, not ever team drafts the way the Steelers do either, so it can be a learning process. They do try to strike a balance between need and “best available” but the advent of free agency in 1993 changed that “best available” which they once followed more religiously. But it still applies in many cases because free agency has allowed teams to fill immediate needs and allow them to draft with an eye more toward the future.

--- YOU: It seems to me that the Steelers will be drafting a QB,probably on the 3rd day,who will be left then and could they be interested in Jake Coker ,big enough and tough enough?--he played the season with a broken toe---and Alabama always plays good teams.

ED: I would not discount the Steelers drafting a quarterback. Jake Coker is ranked the 14th best QB in this draft by NFLdraftscout and rated a seventh-rounder or free agent. He certainly is a big fellow at 6-5, 244 and really is a developmental quarterback after starting just one season. He might be worth one of those seventh-rounders the Steelers have but I still think they will sign a veteran quarterback to go with Landry Jones.


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