Answer Man IX

<b>Reporter: </b> Let us not talk falsely now, Answer Man, the hour is getting late. How will the new TV contract affect next year's salary cap? <br><b>AM: </b> Wow, you're not messing around today.

Reporter: We have a lot of ground to cover. Can you keep up?
AM: Oh, I'll keep up. As for your question, I haven't broken the numbers down yet, but last year it went up $7-8 million. It'll be a little more than that, maybe $8-9 million. They won't let it go up to $10 million in my opinion.
Reporter: So with the increase, and by getting rid of, say, Jerome Bettis, you should be able to sign-
AM: Bettis' cap number isn't very high this year. I don't know the specifics, I'm really not that familiar with it, but if he just took a reduction in base pay, which is possible, his prorated $6 million signing bonus has two years left. Bettis could cost the Steelers as much in cap money next year not being on the team as he is this year being on the team.
Reporter: So that six-year deal wasn't thrown out in lieu of a simple, one-year contract?
AM: It couldn't have been because he's still here. So you're paying for that.
Reporter: What about guys like Hartings and Kimo?
AM: Hartings will have a $5.9 million cap number. And Kimo, Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, James Farrior, Joey Porter and Chad Scott, they're all in the $4 million cap-number range each. Then you have to do something with Casey Hampton. His time is coming up.
Reporter: So if you get rid of, say, Hartings-
AM: Who are you going to play there? You know, this is my problem: "Let's get Ben a wide receiver." How about let's keep Ben behind a good f------ offensive line and draft a damn receiver because they are a dime a dozen. They are a dime a dozen. How many guys in last year's draft are as good as Plax? Six?
Reporter: But there are also the Troy Edwards of the world?
AM: Well, you've got to do your job. See, everybody has to do their job. You can't assume that since our scouting department got the quarterback right that they're due to screw up the wide receiver this year. You have to assume they're going to do their jobs again. They have been doing a good job, so why not?
Reporter: So what's your take on trying to keep Burress and/or Bell?
AM: I don't think you can possibly afford what it's going to take to sign them. And if you do sign them, what happens to the rest of the team? I would much rather try to replace a receiver who's playing on the level of Plaxico Burress than a center in front of my $100 million quarterback who's playing like Hartings is right now. Now, I don't know if he'll be playing as well next year, but if you're going to make me give up one of those two guys, based on what I know that I've got, I'm taking the big guy with the big arms who's squatting down in front of him. I've got to believe you can find another receiver who's as good as Plax. Plus, you've given your word to Hines Ward. You can argue that one way or the other but it is what it is, and when that kind of stuff happens around here, they usually follow through.
Reporter: So you don't see that extra $10 million being able to buy either one of those guys?
AM: I don't think you can afford to spend it on either one of those guys in a lump like that. You need to spread it around. You're going to re-do Hines Ward, and then there's Casey Hampton, and what are you going to do with Deshea Townsend? Chris Hope? You've got to make a decision on him. Oliver Ross can be a nice back-up but Max Starks has to play. Keydrick is a guy worth keeping I think. You give money to those kinds of people. I just really think you need to continually fortify the line. You've got to get back to that. I would really make that unit a priority all the time. Never think that you have enough. If you're sitting at the end of the first round with nobody to pick, pick one. If you get Kendall Simmons, that's good enough for me. We saw last year what happens when they stink. Nothing works. Everything falls apart if this team can't run the ball. And that's another thing. If Jerome is done, you've got to look there, too. Willie Parker had a nice preseason, and Verron Haynes looks good when he's healthy, and I'm not saying you pick one No. 1, but it's another thing you look at. Who knows? Maybe you can bring in a solid veteran running back.
Reporter: So you'd like to keep Keydrick?
AM: How about keeping Keydrick and moving Kendall Simmons to center?
Reporter: And then keep Burress with the savings from Hartings?
AM: Or Bell. I don't think you can keep them both. See, I just don't like the idea of two wide receivers on your team with $4 million cap numbers.
Reporter: That's something to think about. Now let's get to the Browns. How are they different than the last time you played them?
AM: A better running game, or a running attack with Lee Suggs. Suggs has speed to get to the outside and stuff like that. It's a good 1-2 punch with him and William Green.
Reporter: They have two back-up guards playing. Is that a problem for them?
AM: We're about to find out. I mean, they were back-ups for a reason. Hopefully it's a good reason for us.
Reporter: They can run and throw. What do you expect?
AM: I expect them to try to run the ball and then do play-action so we don't have so much heat on him. The last time we played them, and in the last two games, we've put so much pressure on those guys because no one's had a running game. So I expect them to try to pound the ball, do what we've been doing to people.
Reporter: Is this a scary game?
AM: Yes. Look at how they've played at home. They've won every game and went into overtime with Philly. They play well at home. I think Jeff Garcia is starting to get a little more comfortable in what they're trying to do. The running game's getting better and improving. You have to see how the interior of their offensive line responds, but it's a scary game. Anytime you play a divisional opponent at their house it's scary.

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