Steelers' off-season notebook

Once again, Pittsburgh plays the tortoise to most everyone else's hare in free agency. The Steelers prefer the methodical and this year is shaping as their most inactive in their pursuit of free agents.

As of Friday, they had acquired no one. They had five players in for visits and actually signed one, restricted free agent punter Andy Lee of the 49ers. But San Francisco wasted little time in matching the Steelers' meager contract to Lee of six years, $7.1 million.

A visit scheduled by Patriots unrestricted free agent linebacker Tully Banta-Cain was aborted when he signed the day before in San Francisco.

Two low-level unrestricted free agents met with Steelers coaches Thursday: Seattle backup offensive lineman Floyd Womack and Baltimore special teams player Alex Bannister.

Two more arrived on Friday -- outside linebacker Colby Bockwoldt and offensive lineman Sean Mahan.

Bockwoldt became the first linebacker in free agency to visit the Steelers when he arrived at their UPMC facility on Pittsburgh's South Side this morning.

Bockwoldt, 25, started all 16 games for the New Orleans Saints at outside linebacker in 2005 but he was waived before last season. Tennessee claimed him, he played as a backup and the Titans did not issue him a qualifying offer as a RFA.

Mahan has started at center and guard in Tampa Bay. The Steelers are looking at him to play center after the retirement of Jeff Hartings. They have three other candidates for that job -- guard Kendall Simmons, the longtime heir apparent in Chukky Okobi and 2006 rookie Marvin Philip. If Mahan signs, Okobi could be released.


--The Steelers have not signed a Grade A free agent since linebacker James Farrior, a former first-round draft choice, left the Jets as a UFA to join the Steelers in 2002. The 2003 class was practically empty. RB Duce Staley signed in 2004 but after his first seven games, he was injured and little used the next 2 1/2 seasons. WR Cedrick Wilson, signed in 2005, likely will be a backup next season and FS Ryan Clark, signed last year, looks as though he will be a backup in 2007 too.

--Had Bill Cowher remained as the Steelers' coach, LB Joey Porter thinks he would have remained a Steelers linebacker.

"I would like to say that he would have made an effort to get something done over there. I just feel that way," said Porter, who was released by the Steelers and signed with Miami five days later for five-years and $32 million.

--LB Larry Foote, one of the closest members of the defense to Porter, said the loss of their co-captain would cause no morale problems.

Larry Foote said he was happy Porter found a new home and new riches in Miami.

"It's a win-win," said Foote. "The Steelers wanted to go another route and Joey got more money. We'll definitely miss Joey but we're professionals. We're still competitive players. We'll be excited with the new coach. I talked to him briefly on the phone. I'm excited and getting ready for a new year. There are a lot of doubters out there against us. We'll just start fresh and show what we've got.

--Steelers CB Deshea Townsend was charged with simple assault in a bar fight even though the bar manager claimed the player was not involved.

"Two guys were fighting, and we ran over and broke up the fight," said Tim Novosel. "Deshea Townsend was nowhere near any of the fight."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They have to have something to write so it doesn't bother me at all. I know what I can do. The reality of it, you put me in a situation to do my job, I can do my job well." -- LB Joey Porter on reports in Pittsburgh that the Steelers believe he no longer could play at a top level.





--DE Rodney Bailey did not play a big role as a backup and would only return as a minimum-wage veteran.

--OT Barrett Brooks spent the year on injured reserve after a knee injury just before he would have been released. Won't be back.

--LB Chad Brown ended last season with a knee injury and it appears that his career is over.

--S Tyrone Carter is versatile and made important contributions in the nickel and dime defenses.

--CB Chidi Iwuoma has been a special teams co-captain and could be given an opportunity to fill that role again if he will play for the minimum.

--S Mike Logan was valuable when he was healthy but that occurred all too infrequently and he too likely will not be back.

--S Andre Lott was strictly a fill-in late in the season because of injuries and probably will not return.

--WR Lee Mays has been on and off the roster for several years. If he's interested in fighting for a roster spot, they could sign him for the minimum.

--WR Sean Morey's value is on special teams; a favorite of Bill Cowher's, the new staff also would like to have him back.


--QB Brian St. Pierre (tendered at $850,000 with 5th-round pick as compensation) held down the No. 3 job but did not play.

--RT Max Starks (tendered at $1.85M with 1st-round pick as compensation) did not have a good season in his second as a starter and will be challenged for his job in 2007 by Willie Colon. Surprise he received first-round tender.


--LB Arnold Harrison was No. 4 on the depth chart until a season-ending knee injury midway through 2006.

--LS Greg Warren has been the team's long snapper the past two seasons and done a good job at it.

--WR Nate Washington moved into the No. 3 spot in his second season in the league and should be among the top four again in 2007.


--RB Najeh Davenport: UFA; $2M/2 yrs, $405,000 SB.



--C Jeff Hartings (retired).

--RB Verron Haynes (released/failed physical).

--LB Joey Porter (released).

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