If you’re one of the people who voted for Max Starks in my little free agency poll on the right, please leave your name in the comments. I’d like to congratulate you on being one of the 12 finest football minds regularly reading this site.
Not that the other answers were wrong. I certainly can’t fault anybody for picking CB Bryant McFadden. He was a starting corner on the top rated pass defense in the NFL. You could make an argument for WR Nate Washington, even though #3 receivers who drop one for every one they catch aren’t exactly a rare commodity. I do congratulate my readers on recognizing the massive black hole of suck that is OG Chris Kemoeatu.
However, in that vein, we all know that if there’s one glaring weakness on the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s the offensive line. Five of those OL are free agents this spring, giving the team a chance to root out some of the weak links. Allowing your franchise quarterback to be sacked in excess of 70 times over the past two seasons is simply not acceptable. Time to do some reshuffling of the deck.
To wit, the Steelers have placed their Franchise Player tag on OT Max Starks. This guarantees Max a raise up to $8.45 million dollars next year, unless some other team wants to surrender two #1 draft picks in order to steal him away. Now I’ve been critical of Max and his salary being as bloated as his beer gut but this is a smart move. The Steelers paid LT Marvel Smith $6.5 million last year to sit in a hot tub so you tell me who earned their money and who didn’t.
Not to mention, Max actually had a very good season. He was one of the few solid performers on the offensive line. Sure at times he struggled but LT is the hardest position on the line because you’re matched up against the other team’s best pass rusher most snaps. It’s not even Max’s natural position (he was RT on the Super Bowl XL winning team) so playing there and doing a generally solid job is quite an accomplishment. Especially when we had guys at other far easier positions getting beat like strippers at Pacman‘s birthday party. If there was one free agent OL worthy of being re-signed, it’s Max Starks.
The Steelers might sign him to a multi-year contract to lower the cap hit number. As things stand now, the team is about $18 million under the cap not counting this $8.5 million hit. They could still reconfigure the OL without breaking the bank. Kemoeatu and Willie Colon were easily our worst two performers so I wouldn’t offer them anything but token raises. The team has RG Kendall Simmons coming back next year while his replacement, Darnell Stapleton, was serviceable so they could always play them both if Kemo walks (believe me I’d shed no tears). I believe we’ll use one high draft pick on OL and probably sign one bargain free agent so there should be some options in addition to what we have now. Colon is a Restricted Free Agent so he’ll unfortunately be back at RT but since that’s the easiest position to find, I’m sure he’ll have to compete for his job with a new guy (or even Starks, if they draft a stud LT in the first round).
It should make for an interesting off-season. In the meantime, please take a minute to click this link and vote for Nice Pick, Cowher in the great Pittsburgh Sports Blogs tournament. I wanna duplicate Pitt’s success by making the Sweet 16 so you better get to work. Otherwise, next time I’m keeping all the M&Ms for myself.
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Tags: 2008 Nfl Champions 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Nfl Champions 2009 Nfl Draft 2009 Nfl Offseason 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger Bmac Bryant Mcfadden Chris Kemoeatu Darnell Stapleton Franchise Tag Kendall Simmons Marvel Smith Max Starks Nate Washington Nfl Draft Off Season News Steelers Offseason News Steelers Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Steelers Steeler Nation Steelers Steelers Franchise Player Steelers Offseason News Super Bowl Xl Super Bowl XLIII Tongan Bulldozer