By Jim Wexell
Posted Mar 9, 2007
PITTSBURGH – The Steelers don’t have the cap space to sign big-name free agents this year, and it’s becoming apparent they can’t sign unheralded players, either.
Sean Mahan and Colby Bockwoldt came and went Friday without deals. Moran hopped a plane headed back to Tampa, where he’s expected to continue negotiating with the Buccaneers.
Bockwoldt, who told reporters he wanted to sign with the Steelers over any other team, also was expected to leave Pittsburgh.
Moran is the guard-center from Tampa Bay whom the Steelers hoped to compete for the center position.
Bockwoldt is a 6-foot-1, 237-pound outside linebacker who figured to add depth and play special teams. He said Pittsburgh “is definitely a place that I want to be. I know a few players here: Brett Keisel, Chris Hoke, Shaun Nua, all my BYU guys. And they had nothing but great things to say about this team, this city, this organization, the people that work here.”
New Orleans drafted Bockwoldt out of BYU in 2004 and he started the final seven games of his rookie season at outside linebacker. He started all 16 games for the Saints in 2005 and led the team in tackles, but was cut at the end of the 2006 training camp.
“Any time a coaching staff leaves – the entire coaching staff left – you don’t have anybody left to fight for you,” he said. “That’s kind of how the business goes.”
The Tennessee Titans signed Bockwoldt and he played in all 16 games last season with one start, but the Titans didn’t make him a qualifying offer to become a restricted free agent this month. The 26-year-old has 114 career tackles with two sacks and three fumble recoveries. He said the Titans and 49ers have made him offers.
Mahan hoped to replace the retired Jeff Hartings, but said of the Steelers: “They also have the idea of maybe trying Kendall Simmons out at center, too.”
He said his decision won’t be based solely on money.
“I plan on being a starter,” he said, “so I’m not going to go someplace and not play.”
Mahan renewed acquaintances Friday with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was part of the Tampa Bay coaching staff during Mahan’s first three years in the league.
“He’s a great coach. I admire him. I have a lot of respect for him,” Mahan said. “I’d be here even if he wasn’t here, but it’s nice knowing he’s here.”