By Jim Wexell
Posted Mar 9, 2007
PITTSBURGH - Talks between Sean Mahan and the Steelers continued Friday night after breaking down earlier in the evening.
The offensive lineman left the teams South Side practice facility at approximately 5 p.m. He reached the airport and was set to board a plane back to Tampa Bay when he received a call from the Steelers and talks resumed.
The two sides were hopeful of reaching an agreement late last night.
Mahan hopes to replace the retired Jeff Hartings as the Steelers starting center, a prominent position thats been held on a full-time basis by only four players since 1964.
Mahan was offered contracts by Cleveland and Seattle, but his most serious suitors appear to be Tampa Bay and the Steelers. Mahan said earlier in the day that his decision wont be based solely on money.
I plan on being a starter, he said, so Im not going to go someplace and not play.
With Hartings gone, the Steelers are left with six-year backup Chukky Okobi and last years sixth-round pick Marvin Philip, but both are strictly centers.
They also have the idea of maybe trying Kendall Simmons out at center, too, Mahan said, confirming what a source with the Steelers said Thursday.
Simmons, when healthy, has been the Steelers starting right guard since 2002. He and left guard Alan Faneca are heading into the final years of their contracts and the Steelers plan to look at Simmons at center in the April 20-22 minicamp preceding the draft.
Mahan, wholl turn 27 on May 28, is a 6-foot-3, 301-pounder whos considered a technician with the quickness and agility the Steelers seek at the position.
A fifth-round pick by Tampa Bay out of Notre Dame in 2003, Mahan renewed acquaintances Friday with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was part of the Tampa Bay coaching staff during Mahans first three seasons in the league.
Hes a great coach. I admire him. I have a lot of respect for him, Mahan said. Id be here even if he wasnt here, but its nice knowing hes here.
Mahan is a native of Jenks, Oklahoma, and was a two-year starter at Notre Dame. He was Notre Dames most outstanding lineman in 2002.
The Steelers also met Friday with free-agent outside linebacker Colby Bockwoldt, who had hoped to join former BYU teammates Brett Keisel, Chris Hoke and Shaun Nua with the Steelers, but left Friday without reaching an agreement.
Bockwoldt is a 6-1, 237-pounder whod add depth to the Steelers thin linebacking corps and play on special teams.
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.
Anytime a coaching staff leaves the entire coaching staff left you dont have anybody left to fight for you, he said. Thats kind of how the business goes.
Tennessee picked up Bockwoldt off the waiver wire and he played in all 16 games last season, making one start, but the Titans didnt 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.