In a mildly surprising move, the Steelers traded former starting center Sean Mahan to Tampa Bay for an undisclosed draft pick. Media outlets reported that the Steelers had shopped Mahan, Trai Essex, and Max Starks prior to making final cuts without any luck.
Mahan had been the Steelers center last year, but his performance was substandard, leading the Steelers to pick up Justin Hartwig as a replacement.
Steelers coaches are making a huge vote of confidence in favor of second year pro Daryl Stapelton who will take over duties of backup guard and back up center. Stapleton was on the Steelers practice squad in 2007 and was an undrafted rookie free agent.
One also has to wonder if the Steelers are not making this move to free up cap space so that they can make a last minute signing before the their self imposed blackout on contract negotiations.
In his on-line chat, Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette confirmed with the players themselves that neither Marvel Smith nor Chris Kemoeatu is in negotiations with the team. With that said, in the same chat Bouchette indicated that a trade involving Mahan was unlikely. In the same vein, the James Farrior signing also came as a surprise.
The idea that the motive of Mahan trade is to free up cap space is pure speculation on the Steel Curtain Rising’s part, but the Steelers would do well to make ensure some sort of stability on the offensive line, as five of the nine lineman on the roster will become free agents at season’s end.