Justin Hartwig joins Pittsburgh Steelers

An American football center, Justin Hartwig, signed yesterday with the Pittsburgh Steelers a two-year, $3,725,000 deal with a $975,000 signing bonus.

Now it’s going to be a little hard for Hartwig, as he is to fight with Sean Mahan for the team’s starting center position.

Hartwig was drafted in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. In his rookie season, he played in the final three regular season games, primarily on special teams. He was inactive for the previous 13 games. In 2003, he started every game at center for Titans and helped Steve McNair lead the league in passing while Eddie George recorded his seventh 1,000-yard rushing season. He was a member of offensive line ranked tied for sixth in the league in fewest sacks allowed with 25. The offense ranked fourth overall in the AFC (eighth in NFL). Hartwig won starting center job with four preseason starts after never playing center prior to training camp. He started 47 games in 3 years.

In 2006 Hartwig signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers, starting one game before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. Hartwig entered the 2007 season as the starting center for the Panthers. However, he was released after the season to make room for second-year player Ryan Kalil.

Photo: pubsys.charlotteobserver.com