(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
It appeared that Kevin Colbert shut down the Tyrann Mathieu rumors when speaking with members of the Pittsburgh media on Sunday, as Colbert said they prefer signing younger free agents. Mathieu turns 30 in May and coming off his fourth contract.
"Our preference is always to add players coming off of their first contract or as close to their first contract as they can be," Colbert said via a phone call while reporters were gathered at the NFL Owners Meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. Colbert was attending pro days this week, so he wasn't down in Florida.
The Steelers might not land Mathieu because of multiple factors, but Mathieu revealed on the "Jordy Culotta Show" on Wednesday that he has talked with Mike Tomlin on the phone along with several other teams.
“I still try to enjoy the process,” Mathieu said about being a free agent for the third time. “It’s still cool talking to all coaches, the different coaches, because some of these guys, I’m fans of. Mike Tomlin calling your phone like, ‘Hey, yo, it’s Mike T.’ Just being able to talk with these guys, it’s a blessing.”
Colbert mentioned that he believes the Steelers currently have starting-caliber players for 24 of 25 positions. The lone vacancy is at strong safety, as Terrell Edmunds is still unsigned and the Steelers are not going to chase him with contract offers, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dulac thinks the Steelers would consider re-signing Edmunds, but only if he doesn’t get a substantial offer in free agency. There's been no news on other teams expressing interest in Edmunds thus far in free agency.
The Steelers could afford Mathieu, but the three-time All-Pro made it clear that he wants to play for a championship-caliber team (I'm not sure if the Steelers are there right now). They have the pieces on defense, but there's some major question marks on offense, especially at quarterback with Mitch Trubisky. Mathieu also stressed how important the quarterback position is to win.
“From a leadership perspective, you obviously want to be part of a good group of guys," Mathieu said when asked what he's looking for in a team. "You want to be able to work well with these guys. These are guys that you spend a good part of your life with once you sign a contract, hours and hours on end. You want to be a part of a good group.
“And then, too, I think I’ve been spoiled. I’ve always been around guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Petersen, J.J. Watt. So, If you ain’t got those guys in the room, I don’t know if I fit in the room. And then you want to win, it's all about being able to compete.”
Mathieu spent time at his alma mater LSU this week and created an endowed scholarship to ensure that current and future student-athletes have the opportunity to earn an LSU degree. Whatever team lands Mathieu, they'll certainly be getting a talented player and high character guy. Along with the Steelers, Mathieu has been linked to the Colts, Bears, Cowboys and his hometown Saints in free agency.