It is that time of the week again, time for us to sit down with Lance Williams, our local Yinzer, to get his take on anything and everything Pittsburgh Steelers related. You might recognize Lance's name from our BTSC flagship podcast "The Standard is the Standard", and he is providing a new platform for his opinions this offseason through this weekly feature.
Without further ado, time to let Lance ramble about the NFL Schedule, Cortez Allen and more...
Question: How much credence to you put into the release of the 2016 Schedule?
Lance: I try not to get ahead of myself when the schedule is released because injuries and suspensions are so impactful. With that said, I do look at the schedule from a perspective that's different from most. I look at the starting QB's the Steelers will have to face. Given that the clear weakness of the football team is its secondary, I think opposing starting QB strength is the best way to break it down. Outside of the usual AFC North QBs, the Steelers play against Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, and Andrew Luck. Overall they play top 15 QBs in only 9 of the 16 games. To me, that's pretty favorable given that only Brady has a slight advantage in the QB matchup over Ben Roethlisberger. I'm not going to give you guys a prediction just yet, but I do think the schedule is very manageable.
Question: Cortez Allen was also released, I doubt you were surprised...what are your thoughts?
Lance: The Steelers have waived Cortez Allen after he refused to take a pay cut. As a pre-June 1st cut, the Steelers save 1.7 million in cap space and incur a 4.05 million dead money charge. Even with the inexperience of the Steelers CBs, I'm not surprised that Allen is gone. It just didn't work out after he signed the long-term contract. Now that the Steelers are down to only two CBs with NFL experience, William Gay and Ross Cockrell, they have to add a veteran in Free Agency, but looking at the list of available free agents no one out there is as good Brandon Boykin or Antwon Blake. Whoa! As much as Steelers fans complained about the secondary last year, as of today it's even worse. Hopefully Kevin Colbert and Coach Tomlin have something up there sleeves, but don't bank on it and expect inconsistent CB play in 2016. Shootouts here we come.
Question: Jarvis Jones is entering his final year of his rookie contract. As a first round draft pick, the Steelers could pick up his 5th year option. Do you think this is a good idea?
Lance: In 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall selection. According to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the Steelers have until May 2nd to notify players if they intend to pick up the extra year. Note, this stipulation only applies to first round draft picks. If the Steelers do pick up Jones's option, his base salary will be 8.3 million dollars. Although Jones was much improved last year, he doesn't start, plays limited snaps, and his production simply doesn't warrant that kind of money.
He has only recorded 5 sacks in his entire career. By comparison, Bud Dupree got 4 sacks in his lone season. Since he's been drafted the Steelers have drafted Bud Dupree and have brought back James Harrison. This means they aren't sold on Jones and they see him as a rotational player. The writing is on the wall for Jarvis Jones, and it says 2016-2107 will be his last year with the Steelers.
Question: Is this the year the team finally drafts a cornerback in the first round?
Lance: Since 1992, Bill Cowher's first year as the Steelers head coach, the Steelers have drafted a cornerback in the 1st round only two times. They drafted Leon Figures in 1993 and Chad Scott in 1997. Given that history, it stands to reason that they won't draft one in the 1st round in 2016. No disrespect to any of the Steelers CBs, but a roster of Ross Cockrell, Isaiah Frey, William Gay, Senquez Golson, and Al-Hajj Shabazz ain't cutting it. In fact, it's downright scary when you think that the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos have a CB trio of Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., and Bradley Roby.
Looking at the list of Steelers CBs, it screams draft one in the 1st round. We all know they should, but we all know they won't because they rarely do it. The Steelers typically look for secondary fixes with the pass rush. If I had my druthers, I would select a DT/NT hybrid who could play 3 downs in the 1st round and then address the secondary with the next two picks.
Question: You hate a lot of aspects of football (the Draft, college football, etc.)...are you sure you really like football?
Lance: If you've read the column or listened to the Standard is the Standard Podcast, I'm on record as saying I hate the draft, college football, and preseason football. While typing that last sentence, I actually chuckled and I get why most of you ask why I write for the site and do a Podcast. Make no mistake, I love Football; however, I love and value my time even more. For those that don't know, I've been doing a Steelers Podcast (5 Ain't Enough, Steel Curtain Radio) since 2005. I've spent countless hours pouring over game film and reading articles to provide the best in Steelers analysis. The super wide hash marks in the college game make it hard to watch. The incessant speculation about prospects and countless hours of media coverage on hand size makes me hate the draft more and more each year, and preseason football is just bad. By the way, please read BTSC's draft coverage because we the best (channeling my DJ Khaled voice). I love the game folks; it's just about time management.
If you want to check out Lance in audio form, feel free to do so by checking out our BlogTalkRadio page, as well as on iTunes by searching "The Standard is the Standard".