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Old 03-17-2008, 03:19 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Max protection

Steelers' Max protection
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, March 17, 2008

The NFL salary cap is at an all-time high. Teams are spending money like they're playing Monopoly. Free-agent offensive tackles, especially those bearing Super Bowl rings, are supposedly in huge demand.
So why is Max Starks still without a new contract?

And why does it seem like the Steelers know something that the rest of us don't?

Starks appeared to be in line for a significant pay increase when the Steelers made him a transition free agent at a cost of $6.9 million in 2008.

If Starks finds a buyer, it forces the Steelers to ante up nearly $7 million if they want to keep him, or lose him without compensation.
The Steelers, who have legitimate offensive line concerns, gambled teams wouldn't be beating down Starks' door.

Turns out, the Steelers were right.

Remind me to ask Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert to select my lottery numbers the next time I see him.

Unless some team has a change of heart and lavishes major dollars on Starks, he'll have to play on the Steelers' terms, or not play at all next season.

So far, so good for the Steelers -- and still no offers that we know of for Starks.

Hard to figure how the Steelers knew how the free-agent market would play out, especially the market for offensive linemen in a league desperate for tackles -- particulary tackles who have started in a Super Bowl.

At 26, Starks is still relatively young.

He was the starting right tackle in 2005. According to the Steelers media guide, he threw a key block during Willie Parker's record 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL.

Starks was the starting right tackle for 14 games in 2006. Depending on who you ask, he missed the last two games either because of a knee injury, or because the Steelers wanted to take a look at rookie Willie Colon, a fourth-round draft pick.

Apparently, the new coach saw the same thing the old coach did, because Colon was the starting right tackle in 2007, with Starks backing him up. Starks moved over and displayed versatility at left tackle when he filled in for injured starter Marvel Smith late in the season.

Starks, though, hurt his knee in the final regular-season game at Baltimore. Little-used Trai Essex replaced Starks in the playoff game against Jacksonville.

Since the season ended, Starks has been rehabilitating his knee and waiting for the phone to ring with good news.

Any day now, Starks may land the big contract that could finally force the Steelers' hand. Yeah, and cigarettes don't cause cancer, either.
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_557587.html
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Old 03-17-2008, 03:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

That is really and interesting article I don't see another team paying starks that kind of money.
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

Nice article, that was pretty slick in how the Steelers handled this.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steel Pit View Post
Nice article, that was pretty slick in how the Steelers handled this.
So far! I'll be happy when we sign him cheap and free up some cap room. The sooner the better, we missed out on Eugene Wilson already.
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

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Originally Posted by Steel Pit View Post
Nice article, that was pretty slick in how the Steelers handled this.
Yeah, but if Starks is upset how the Steelers handled this and prevented him from really testing the market to see what he could have made....he might decide not to negotiate. His options will be play for whatever contract the steelers offer, sign with another team for similar money when they pull the offer, or even sit out a year.

It still all depends on if he wants to be a Steeler.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

Why would Max be upset?

The Steelers put a transition tag on him, not a franchise tag. The object of the transition tag is giving an offer to a player, and seeing if others teams will match/surpass that offer. No offers from other teams have been made to Starks...yet.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

Exactly, he has no reason to be upset, if anything it was almost like daring another team to make a run at him because we thought enough of him to use the Transition.

I think the injury is the real reason, It wouldn't surprise me if he's not ready to go by TC.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

All the transition tag is really, is Franchise Tag Lite. It makes it more difficult for Starks to shop his services because the team that signed him would have to give up a 3rd round pick as well as the contract and the Steelers have the right to match that contract as well.

If Starks agrees for a mid level contract, then the Steelers just match it and he assumes that contract, but the fact a team has to give up a pick also, means they wont give him something that big that the Steelers would not match.

Its kind of like how Chris Canty got the 1st round tender offer and nobody is gonna go after him despite the fact he is a great fit for a 3-4DE, but it means they give up their 1st round pick. In Canty's case he is getting a contract this year.

In Starks case, he has the tag and apparently its gonna get pulled and he will never see that $7 mil a season. Its kind of a restraint of trade issue.

I have a similar situation in that I have a non-competition clause in my employment contract and another company wants to offer me more $$ , but is worried about incurring legal costs by hiring me. I never wanted the clause, but if I didnt sign it I would not have got the job. So I kind of resent that my employment mobility has been restricted......just like Starks might.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

Anyone who can see Starks making 7 mil just simply did not watch one Steeler game. I'm stupified by the idea.

This doesn't make K.C. genius and able to pick lottery tickets. The premise for this article shows how little there is to report. We could have written this article two seasons ago.

What will make K.C. genius is how he digs us all out of the abyss from the 23rd slot.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Max protection

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Originally Posted by Haiku_Dirtt View Post
Anyone who can see Starks making 7 mil just simply did not watch one Steeler game. I'm stupified by the idea.

This doesn't make K.C. genius and able to pick lottery tickets. The premise for this article shows how little there is to report. We could have written this article two seasons ago.

What will make K.C. genius is how he digs us all out of the abyss from the 23rd slot.
Yeah, he was considered one of the top 10 FA linemen to be available, but no way he is worth $7mil and they will not pay him that.

It was a good idea to have the market set the price on Starks and slightly devalue him, so if he signs then they at least have a young veteran lineman to play either tackle spot rather than rely only on Colon, Essex and Smith recovering from surgery in the final year of his contract.

As for the abyss that is the AFC North championship team with a top ranked defense, frachise QB and league leading rusher before his injury. My dog can lead us out of that pretty easily.
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