Podcast: Previewing the 2019 Steelers Depth chart — Offensive Line

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Preview” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, and while the team isn’t playing anymore, it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to discuss — so it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Black-and-Gold News
  • Position Breakdown: Offensive Line
  • Conference Championship Weekend predictions/ Fantasy Football suggestions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Bryan Anthony Davis walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: The time when Art Rooney II speaks, yet says nothing at all

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how on Wednesday Steelers Team President Art Rooney II spoke to the media, went on KDKA in Pittsburgh and even joined the crew at Steelers Live. He did a lot of talking, but what might be the most notable is how he said very little.

Maybe he is learning from Mike Tomlin, or vice versa, but those who were hanging to every word waiting for something significant — were left hanging.

Let’s get to the news:

Tim Benz: Art Rooney II’s take on Steelers ‘circus’ is pure ‘nonsense’

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II had his annual season-ending powwow with the team’s local print outlets Wednesday.

He made one comment that was so far from true, it couldn’t see the truth with the Hubble telescope.

Rooney was asked about the perception that his team is a circus and full of distractions.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s nonsense,” Rooney said .

I’m told he actually made that statement with a straight face and with no fingers crossed.

This year alone, the team’s helicopter-ridin’ star wide receiver skipped practices and meetings — twice — and was sent home for the season finale. He mocked the coach on Instagram with a former team icon, too.

In between those moments, Antonio Brown set a new land-speed record on McKnight Road, threatened a reporter, accused another of racism, threw another sideline tantrum and was in the news for throwing furniture off a balcony.

That team icon — James Harrison — has been on a crusade to undermine coach Mike Tomlin’s authority. Yet he was brought back to Heinz Field for the Super Bowl XLIII 10th anniversary celebration and was given a standing ovation on Rooney’s field.

Another team legend — Rocky Bleier — declared he was “done” with the team on Facebook, then recanted. The starting quarterback openly questioned the draft and criticized his receivers on a few occasions.

All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell seemingly welched on an assumed plan to play on a franchise tag, tied up $14.5 million in unpaid cap space and then spent the next few months intermittently mocking the club, laughing at his absence from it and flirting with other organizations.

Meanwhile, his teammates ripped the running back and raided his locker in front of the media.

On the field, the kicker who signed a five-year contract extension in the offseason had a season-long meltdown, and the team blamed an X-ray machine for a loss against the awful Oakland Raiders while gagging away a 7-2-1 record to miss the playoffs.

After that, valued offensive line coach Mike Munchak jumped ship for the same job in Denver, and outside linebackers coach Joey Porter was fired.

Following Porter’s dismissal, reports — from someone who works for the team’s website, radio network and flagship station — were that Porter “was trying to pit the defense against the offense in a divisive manner.”

That was just in 2018.

(For more, click the link in the headline above…)

Steelers brace for ‘tough’ reality of losing top talent

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

No need to tell Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II about the difficulties of finding transcendent talents.

He has seen three absurdly good players — linebacker Ryan Shazier, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell — lead his team to victories only to leave the lineup, potentially for good.

When asked about losing top-15 players such as these, Rooney acknowledged the obvious with the trade discussion around Brown: Talent prevails.

“That’s one reason why we haven’t made any decisions on Antonio yet,” Rooney said in a Wednesday interview with a small group of local reporters.

Loose translation: All-Pros are really hard to find, no matter how difficult. That’s why any exchange for Brown must produce serious draft capital. And the Steelers are hemorrhaging top talent. As a result, this offseason is shaping up to be a test of mettle for an organization that must strengthen the roster on the fly.

The loss of Shazier to a severe spinal injury in late 2017, coupled with Bell’s yearlong holdout and the seemingly inevitable trade of Brown, are nearly impossible to replace on the surface. Shazier wants to continue rehabbing for a return to football, and the Steelers plan to help him with that, but he’s not in the plans for the 2019 roster.

To be sure, the Steelers are good enough to win games without those players. And quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who’s due an extension this offseason, gives Pittsburgh a chance in every game.

With a little creativity, they can be right back in contention.

They have $27.72 million in salary-cap space, according to OverTheCap.com. They can create more with roster cuts and restructuring the final year on Roethlisberger’s deal.

”We have a lot to things to evaluate,” Rooney said. “Having a little extra cap space always helps, that’s for sure.”

Rooney said the Steelers feel good about their running-back lineup with “two good, young players” in James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. The Steelers haven’t made a firm decision on whether to place the franchise tag on Bell for a third consecutive year, but Conner made a Pro Bowl in his first season as a starter and Samuels is a natural pass-catcher. They can roll with those two players if Bell’s situation has become too explosive.

”We feel like we’re in pretty good shape there,” Rooney said. “The linebacker position is still something we need to address. It’s a challenge, no doubt about it.”

(For more, click the link in the headline above…)

Uncertainty remains after Art Rooney II addresses Steelers offseason plans

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In the wake of a nightmare collapse for his team, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II held his annual meeting with Pittsburgh-area beat writers.

Joe Rutter was our representative for Trib. He joined me for our podcast.

Rooney said one thing in particular that I couldn’t believe. I shared my thoughts on that with Joe.

We also tackled Rooney’s view of an extension for head coach Mike Tomlin.

LISTEN: Recapping Art Rooney’s meeting with Steelers reporters

The owner also discusses the future — or lack thereof — for Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh and the state of the coaching staff.

Le’Veon Bell’s status is still uncertain. And the team has no idea what it is going to do about Ryan Shazier.

Aside from that, it sounds like everything is under control.

Analyzing the cap implications of the Steelers potentially signing Ryan Shazier

Ryan Shazier will technically become a free agent this offseason, but the team can keep him on board without breaking the bank.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to pick up Ryan Shazier’s 5th year option, they thought they were locking up one of the most talented inside linebackers in the game before he would be eligible to hit free agency. What they didn’t know was that 5th year option would be viewed as a Godsend for Shazier after he was left motionless from the waist down at Paul Brown Stadium in December of 2017.

Shazier got his money, as 5th year options are guaranteed in the case of injury, and the Steelers even gave it to him in one lump sum. This gave Shazier, and his family, his yearly salary up front, to possibly help pay for any additional services necessary for his rehabilitation, but also could have helped the Steelers from a salary cap standpoint moving into 2019.

It was no shock when Art Rooney II took to multiple platforms Wednesday to talk about how the Steelers will try to work out a deal with Shazier, who becomes a free agent this offseason, so he can remain with the organization and continue his rehabilitation.

But at what cost to the team’s salary cap? I know, it sounds horrible, but the Steelers are a business and every dollar needs to be accounted for when it comes to the salary cap. According to Ian Whetstone, who contributes to SteelCityInsider and is a genius when it comes to the NFL Salary Cap, his best assumption is the team won’t owe Shazier that much to keep him in the fold.

What about the team deferring all Shazier’s money to him early last season? Did that have any significance? According to Whetstone it did.

The good news here is if these numbers are accurate, it would be very reasonable for the Steelers to give Shazier a one year contract, paying him the league minimum, and allowing him to continue to train and rehab his injury.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the rigors of the 2019 offseason.

T.J. Watt is headed to the Pro Bowl in place of Jadeveon Clowney

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have another player participating in the annual All-Star game next weekend.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a very talented roster, and for the second straight year they will be sending a handful of players to participate in the Pro Bowl. This year, they have had two players added to the roster as injury replacements.

JuJu Smith-Schuster is ironically replacing Antonio Brown after Brown claimed an injury would keep him out of the game. And now outside linebacker T.J. Watt is headed to Orlando in place of Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans took himself out of the All-Star game due to injury purposes.

It isn’t as if Watt didn’t have the numbers to get himself to the Pro Bowl anyway. He had a career year in both sacks (13), tackles (68) and forced fumbles (6).

This isn’t the first honor Watt has received this season, as he was also named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Weeks 1 and 5 of the 2018 season.

Watt will join Cameron Heyward, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner and Alejandro Villanueva as the Steelers’ representatives during the Pro Bowl.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Getting the low down from Art Rooney II’s year-end Steelers interview

Antinio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ryan Shazier, and playing in Mexico were all points of discussion.

Art Rooney II made his end-of-the-year press interviews on Wednesday, first with a small group of reporters and then on the Steelers Live show on Steelers.com. Thanks to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steeler fans were given some insight as to the private interview. Some of the topics discussed in either instance were the following:

On evaluating the 2018 season, especially not making the playoffs:

“It was a tough way to end the season. It felt like we had a chance, and it really came down to just a few plays here and there in the season, literally at the end there. So it’s disappointing that we didn’t make it. It felt like we had a team, particularly the last three weeks of the season, playing well and playing some of the playoff teams and playing well against them. So it’s disappointing.”

“I think the two things that if I had to pick out a couple things that were a problem. One was a kicking game was below average and below where we expected in to be. And second is the minus turnover ratio. That’s always a problem. We can’t be on the wrong side of that.”

On how he would evaluate the players and the coaches:

“I think that when you don’t make the playoffs, nobody is absolved. You just have to say that the players coaches, staff, front office, everybody’s got to do a better job.”

“I think we have a core group of players that can get us back to where we want to be. I look forward to working on this off-season and trying to get the pieces back in place.”

On Mike Tomlin’s performance:

“I think everybody left room for improvement. When you don’t make the playoffs you look at everything and everyone. Coach (Tomlin) and I have talked about a number of different things. And Kevin (Colbert) the same way. So we have work to do.”

On the promotion of Shawn Sarrett:

“Shawn was probably going to get an opportunity eventually somewhere, and so we’re glad it’s here. He’s been mentoring with Munch for a number of years now. So he’s comfortable in the room and he knows the guys and the guys know him. So we think he’ll be able to step up and do the job.”

On an extension for Ben Roethlisberger:

“Ben had a strong year physically and mentally. I think he’s in a good place and, as you look around the league and see guys playing into their 40’s at the quarterback position, there’s no reason to think that Ben can’t be one of those guys.”

On the Antonio Brown situation:

“I would have liked to have been able to talk with him and understand a little better from his perspective what went on the last week of the season.”

On Ryan Shazier in 2019:

“We’re going to continue to work with him and figure out how that works.”

“He just continues to be an impressive young man who is making progress beyond what anyone predicted he would make. He was jogging in the workout room the other day, so I wouldn’t underestimate him.”

On Le’Veon Bell:

“We’ve got a decision to make, so we’ll probably have some discussions with his representative here in the next few weeks and kind of talk through that.”

On playing in Mexico:

“All I can tell you is we keep volunteering to make the trip and would love to go down there sometime. We have a great fan following down there in Mexico.”

On various other topics only answered in the private interview:

Hope is the last thing to die when you’re a Steelers fan

Even as the Steelers last realistic chance at a postseason berth was snuffed out in Baltimore, I still held out hope for a tie in Tennessee.

In fairness, hope is the last thing to die for a fan of any team, but since this is a Steelers site, I had to customize my title for clicks, baby!

Now that that’s out of the way, I thought it was fitting that the Steelers last bit of playoff hope was tied to, well, a tie between the Colts and Titans on Sunday Night Football in the final game of the regular season. It was fitting because a tie is how Pittsburgh began the 2018 campaign. It was a 21-21 come-from-ahead tie with the Browns in Cleveland on September 9, and I’ll be damned if that Week 1 mistake by the lake didn’t come home to roost on December 30.

There were the Steelers and their fans standing around at Heinz Field following an ugly 16-13 victory over the vacation-bound Bengals, hoping and praying for Cleveland to knock off the Ravens in-order to make the AFC North title, something that seemed like an inevitability just six weeks earlier, the ultimate fantasy brought to life.

This was Pittsburgh’s last realistic chance at the postseason, and after Baker Mayfield and Co. failed to come through in the final seconds at M&T Bank Stadium, everyone who either loved the Steelers and/or worked for them, walked away dejected, the stark reality of another year without a seventh Super Bowl parade at the end of the rainbow quickly sinking in.

But I’ll just bet there were at least a few folks (perhaps more than just a few), some Steelers employees, many more just plain old Steelers fan, who hadn’t quite given up on that one last possibility.

I’m talking about a tie between Indianapolis and Tennessee, a result that, thanks to, well, tiebreakers, would have allowed the Steelers to sneak into the dance as the AFC’s sixth seed.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly hadn’t quite given up hope. Even as I co-hosted my final regular season edition of the Hangover with Bryan Anthony Davis, I was keeping tabs on the score of the game. Even though I was sick as a dog and really couldn’t wait to go to bed after the show was over, I was keeping tabs on the score in Tennessee.

But how crazy was that to even think a tie was even possible? Yeah, sure, ties are more possible now than they’ve been since overtime became a reality in the mid-70’s (thank you, 10-minute overtime periods), but in a do-or-die situation, where the winner cashes in the final postseason ticket, how would either team even allow it to come down to that?

If I’m either team in that situation, and I know there’s only one avenue to the Promised Land, what do I care about taking risks? True, I don’t want to lose, but I also don’t want to walk away without winning. If the game is tied in the final seconds, I’m pulling out all the stops. Even if it leads to a loss, oh well, a tie wasn’t going to get me anywhere but home on my couch, anyway.

OK, now that I’ve cleared up just how unrealistic a tie truly was, I want to take you back to the morning of December 31, 2018. Was I thinking about some rockin’ New Year’s Eve party I would attend later that evening? Was I making a list of all of my New Year’s resolutions I would drop by January 15?

Neither.

I was thinking about the Colts and Titans game, and about how there was no way the Steelers could miss the postseason, especially with 2018 being the 10-year anniversary of the team’s Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in Tampa Bay.

Did the game end in a tie? Did the miracle happen?

When I checked my phone to see a final score of 33-17 (it didn’t matter who won or lost), I was even more dejected than when Mayfield’s fourth-down pass was intercepted by C.J. Mosley.

I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I held out hope for a tie. I can’t believe I was sad when I found it it wasn’t a tie.

That’s me, I’m a Steelers fan…a Steelers fan all the way to the bitter end.

Steelers sign safety Marcelis Branch to a reserve/future contract

The Steelers added another player to the roster on Wednesday with the signing of defensive back Marcelis Branch.

The Pittsburgh Steelers added yet another new name to the 2019 roster on Wednesday with the signing of safety Marcelis Branch to a reserve/future contract, according to the NFL’s transaction database. They first brought him in to Pittsburgh for a tryout just over a week ago.

Originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons and as undrafted free agent in 2017, Branch was released at the end of training camp before being re-signed to their practice squad. After rejoining the Falcons on a reserve/future contract in 2018, he was once again released at the end of preseason, but was unable to find a place on a practice squad last year.

As per DraftScout.com, Branch finished his career at Robert Morris University with 251 tackles, seven interceptions and 21 pass break ups. Named North Eastern Conference Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, Branch joined the team as a cornerback and moved to safety in his senior season.

Branch is the 16th player signed to a reserve/future contract by the Steelers so far this offseason.

Antonio Brown responds to criticism from Bruce Arians and Emmanuel Sanders via Twitter

With so many negative reports circulating about him in the media every day, it is a surprise that Antonio Brown was able to hold his tongue for so long.

It is starting to feel like Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown cannot get a day off from the media as of late, thanks in large part to a growing list of former team members more than willing to talk about him in the press. But given that none of theses names who have been adding their two cents over the past few weeks have spent any time in the Steelers locker room this season, it should comes as no surprise to learn that AB has had enough of their opinions.

In the light of the harsh criticism offered by former teammate Emmanuel Sanders over the weekend and the unflattering remarks from his former offensive coordinator on Tuesday, Brown took to Twitter on Wednesday to offer a response.

A comment that would not go unnoticed by Sanders.

Brown did not limit his responses to Sanders and Arians, picking out a number of random posts to answer, ones that gave him an opportunity to let everyone know he was paying close attention to all the negativity.

Until Brown finally delivers on his big interview, he will remain the villain for most fans, and even then it is unlikely he will change many minds. Sadly, after Art Rooney II had revealed earlier in the day that no one in the organization had yet heard from their troubled receiver, it would appear that time might be running out for AB to rebuild his relationship with senior management.