As Kevin Mawae prepares to enter free agency with 16 seasons of NFL experience under his belt, one overriding factor could play into where the veteran center might land.
Mawae, 39, is the active leader for regular-season games played by an offensive lineman with 241, has been to eight Pro Bowls and also been selected as an All-Pro. But the one thing that has eluded him since his professional career began in 1994 is the Super Bowl.
With the Titans going younger on the offensive line, opting to re-sign Eugene Amano and elevating Leroy Harris into the starting lineup, Mawae is currently on the outside looking in. Or make that looking around, as free agency begins on Friday.
“There’s no question that’s the No. 1 goal for Kevin at this stage of his career is to play in a Super Bowl,” agent Mark Bartelstein said. “Kevin has made that crystal clear to me.”
Mawae confirmed that stance in an interview with Titans Radio.
"There are things I have to think about," he said. "The only option I have with the Titans is to come back as a backup. So you compare [all the teams] and what are the chances of those teams making it to the playoffs and an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. And for my wife and I, it's about what's important for our family. So we're weighing all of those options."
And while that might seem to lessen the list of teams Mawae might deal with in negotiations, Bartelstein points to the league’s unpredictability and leaves the options open for Mawae.
“The one thing about the NFL is that things change in a hurry. Sometimes teams that you don’t expect to be a Super Bowl contender win it. Look at New Orleans. They were a team that struggled last year  and look what happened this season. Two years ago, with Arizona, the same thing happened.”
Bartelstein said he and Mawae have not closed the door completely on a return to the Titans, but know that no starting job would like be awaiting the veteran center if he re-ups in Tennessee.
“Obviously, we’re going to see how this plays out here, and see what happens on Friday,” Bartelstein said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of interest in him, because Kevin is still playing at a Pro Bowl level.”
At the Combine in Indianapolis on Friday, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said basically Mawae’s decision would come down to returning to Tennessee as a backup or pursuing a starting role elsewhere.
“The organization would very much like to have him back in some sort of backup capacity because he is a tremendous leader and provides a great deal of stability for us offensively,” Fisher said. “I know Kevin very well and I know Kevin thinks he can still play and he can play, he can start. Kevin is probably going to go out and look and see what the opportunities are there and then make a tough career as decision as to whether to pursue an opportunity to start or come back as a backup.”
Bartelstein said the door with the Titans would remain open, but that Mawae will first pursue the other options that are out there for him.
“Kevin wants to play. He’s a player, a great player,” Bartelstein said. “We’ll look at every situation, determine pros and cons and determine what makes the most sense for him and his family.
“We’ll leave that door [with the Titans] open, and just kind of take it a day at time make a decision as to what is the best fit for Kevin and his family.”
Hood heading out
The Titans had had some interest in bringing back cornerback Rod Hood, but the veteran who had three interceptions in his first three starts while replacing an injured Nick Harper, is now expected to hit the open market when free agency opens at midnight on Friday.
Hood is one of eight Titans who are unrestricted free agents ready to hit the open market, along with Mawae, Harper, Keith Bulluck, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Alge Crumpler, Jevon Kearse and Kevin Kaesviharn.
The Titans re-signed Eugene Amano, Ken Amato and Donnie NIckey as unrestricted free agents, and punter Craig Hentrich retired.