Starks is still unsigned, but hopefully the team will consider bringing him back. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Why the Steelers Should Bring Back Max Starks

I was a bit taken aback when I read a post by Josh Alper last week on Pro Football Talk which read: “Max Starks nearing 100 percent, still no spot for him with Steelers.”  In the post, Alper discussed how Starks’ rehab coming off of his torn ACL has gone quite well, and that Starks said he is nearing 100%.  Unfortunately for Starks, the Steelers apparently are not very interested in bringing him back for his 9th season.  According to a recent tweet from Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (linked by Alper), the Steelers “won’t consider Starks until/if Adams fails or an injury to Gilbert.”

I was a tad shocked when I read the aforementioned tweet, because I figured that the Steelers would at least consider giving Starks a tryout or at least a chance to prove to the organization that his knee was healthy coming off of his injury which he sustained in the Playoffs.  In fact, I believe that if Starks’ health holds up, he would actually be a valuable signing for the Steelers, because he could bring three very important things to the 2012 team: depth, experience, and leadership.


Depth, Experience, and Leadership

Injuries have completely ravaged the Offensive Line over the last few seasons, but most notably at the Tackle position.  Starks, as well as Willie Colon, and Jonathan Scott have gone down with injuries, and turned in some less than stellar performances.  This has led to mass shuffling along the Offensive Line and guys like Flozell Adams and even Starks have been signed late in the offseason/during the regular season.  To their credit, the Steelers have done their due diligence and acquired two fantastic young Tackles in the last two Drafts in the forms of Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams, yet there is not a whole heck of a lot of experience behind both the Rookie Adams and Gilbert who is just starting his 2nd season.

Yet on a positional unit that is just beginning to get settled, disaster could strike in the form of injury or poor play and Rookie mistakes at any minute.  With those things in mind, depth, especially experienced depth is a valuable asset to have, and Starks has plenty of experience.  Plus, do you want to see Jonathan Scott or another backup with limited experience taking snaps and protecting Big Ben’s blind-side on a consistent basis again?  Protecting #7 is the most important thing for this franchise to do, and the best way is making sure that he can stand upright, no matter what sorts of injuries happen at the Offensive Tackle position.

Furthermore, what better mentor to have for guys like Gilbert and Adams, along with the rest of the young Offensive Linemen than Starks?  The guy has played 8 seasons in the League, started 79 games over 8 seasons, started at Right Tackle for one Super Bowl winning team, and at Left Tackle for another.  He has experienced demotion (when he lost his Right Tackle job to Willie Colon), injuries (missed most of 2010 with neck injury), and all sorts of other ups and downs over his eight year career.  Starks knows what it takes to be a professional, play well, and carve out a long career in the League.  Because of this, he could be a solid influence for the Offensive Linemen as well as the younger players to look up to in the locker room.


Final Thoughts

Look, I am not on the “Starks Right Now!” bandwagon as of yet.  He is still rehabbing the injury he sustained last offseason, and there is still time before Training Camp, the Preseason, and even the Regular Season all begin for this situation to be sorted out.  Yet if the price is right for the somewhat cash-strapped Steelers to sign Starks (hopefully Wallace can be signed for at least this season), I say there is no harm in at least giving the guy a tryout.  If Starks is signed and does not play a snap this season because Gilbert and Adams play well/stay healthy, then so be it.  He was there for depth purposes, and I am sure that he was a valuable veteran Lineman to have at the team’s disposal.  Yet if in the off-chance Starks is forced to play, the team can at least know that they have a legitimate and reliable option to go to if disaster strikes.  Plus, Starks is a far better backup option at the Tackle position than Jonathan Scott has proved to be over the last two years as well.

Adams and Gilbert may be the future of this franchise at the Tackle position, and both could very well develop into the best set of bookends this franchise has had since probably before I was born.  However, depth is key is the N.F.L., and teams’ without any, do not accomplish very much over the long haul of a season.  Starks can provide depth, leadership, and experience to a young and emerging Offensive Line.  Thus, I believe that the Steelers should not hesitate to bring Starks in this season if he is healthy and can be signed at a reasonable price.



What do you readers think?  Should Starks be signed if he is healthy?  Or should the team cut ties?



Stats Courtesy of: Pro Football

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Tags: 2012 Season Marcus Gilbert Max Starks Mike Adams Pittsburgh Steelers Tackles

  • e3dog1955

    Man, I totally disagree with you.  First of all, the Steelers have a great O-Line coach in Coach Kugs and I think he knows what he is doing.  Secondly, why is it that a lot of people want to stay with the old and done and not give the young guys any play?  Gilbert was drafted in the second round last year and when he got his chance he did a great job.  So why can’t Adams do the same?  He played left tackle most of his college career and was projected as a natural left tackle at the nfl level, so whats the problem?
    Now as far as Starks is concerned, I agree with you on one thing, he is better then Jonathan Scott, heck anybody is better then him.  Why is Scott still on the roster, probably because they didn’t have anyone else.  Now I think they do in Kelvin Beachum.  He is very smart and can play every position on the line which the coaches like.  He should replace Scott.  Anything else about Starks I totally disagree with.  First off, he has a weight problem coming off of an ACL, and is very slow which means any good DE or OLB will run right pass him, which happened a lot last year.  He is not that good anymore.  For my money, I will take youth over his experience right now.  I will take Coach Kugs coaching ability with the young guys over Starks experience and leadership.  Christ, he is coming off of two major injuries over the last two seasons.
    Finally, its time to move on.  In with the youth and out with the old.  Starks time is up and I think that is the way that the Steelers organization feels at this time.  I believe Coach Kugs feels the same way.  He would rather work with the young guys rather then deal with Starks.  I hope the Steelers have seen the last of Starks.  Don’t regress by bringing him back.  My hope is that Adams pans out just fine.

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  • RickHarmon

    OK so if one of the starters gets hurt, and history says they telling me that Johnathan Scott is a better option as a backup then Starks? Max had a great year untill he got hurt,Scott is nowhere near his level, if #78 is even 90% sign him

  • Lizadofno


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  • DomDiTolla

    Had you read the article fully, I stated that Starks would be a viable option (“if Starks’ health holds up” in the opening paragraph) if he was able to come back from his injury.  If he isn’t healthy, I agree with you that there is no reason to bring him back, and there is no way Colbert and Co. would even consider bringing him back.
    Your hope is that Adams pans out fine.  I sure hope he does too, and he has the tools to be a solid Left Tackle in this league.  But I must ask: What if Adams isn’t good to go right away/beaten badly by speed rushers/strength isn’t quite up to par or What if injuries strike?  This Offensive Line for whatever reason has been tormented by injuries the last few seasons, and any and all depth should be welcome, especially at the Tackle position.
    Also, are you really that comfortable with a 7th Rounder in Beachum possibly stepping in to play his Rookie season?  Granted, I think Beachum will be a solid developmental project, but it will be at least two years before he can start on a consistent basis if injuries strike.  He’s short (6’3″) and light (306 lbs.) for the Tackle position, and his skill-set projects more as a Guard than a Tackle at the next level in my opinion.  He would get eaten alive by N.F.L. Ends and OLB’s at this point in his career who can not only bowl him over and manhandle him, but beat him with speed as well.  Starks at least has pro experience on his side, and health permitting would be just as viable if not a better option than Beachum to go to for the 2012 season.  If this team has to rely on Beachum at Left or Right Tackle in 2012, Big Ben had better start running.
    To me it is not “regressing” as you say by bringing Starks back this season.  Rather,  it would be bringing an experienced player back for depth purposes at hopefully a bargain rate.  Even if he does not play, he is there for a “break in case of emergency” scenario, and is an upgrade over Scott.  One could make a solid case for not bringing Starks back for 2013 and beyond, but right now the Line is still in a late transition phase.  With that in mind, the Steelers should at least explore the possibility of bringing back familiar and decent depth for one last go-around until the unit is finished gelling after the season.

  • e3dog1955

    Ok Dom, you make a few valid points but, as I stated early in my comment, what about the value of Coach Kugs?  By your comments, you have no faith in the guy at all considering what he has done in two years as the Steelers O-Line coach!  I trust that he knows what he is doing.  At this time, I believe that coach Tomlin has told Kugs that he believes he will have the young guys ready for the season.  Tomlin also believes that the talent on the O-Line is sufficient as it is without Starks.  I believe that Tomlin and Kugs don’t have faith in Starks coming off of the ACL injury with all the speed rushers coming off the left side.  They probably believe that Adams being young is a better option.  He definently is faster on his feet then Starks. 
    Second things is that you don’t think Adams will be ready because he is a rookie.  Well what about most rookies who got drafted by other teams, are they ready?  Tell me how come every other team in the league starts rookies ever year, even good playoffs teams?  Its time that the Steelers put some of their rookies out their.  I know Pouncey and Gilbert did it, so why not Adams.  How about this, since the draft, DeCastro has been anointed the starter at right guard, but Adams has been questioned by everyone.  No one believes that he will be ready.  He has been criticized for everything that happened to him in college, his strengh, what happend to him at the combine and everything else.  No one believes in the guy.  You couldn’t tell that he was a second round pick like Gilbert, its almost like in most peoples mines he was a wasted pick.  If he isn’t ready I can see it now, ADAMS was a wasted draft pick.  What I can say is I believe that coach Kugs believes in him and will do all that he can to get him ready to start.  I just believe that they are not thinking about Starks.
    Also the Steelers have three younger and more talented O-Linemen with experience in Legs who is the backup center and can play guard, Foster who has started at guard, and Essex who has played guard and tackle.  I would go with Essex before Starks.  Infect, Esses has played tackle dring the OTA’s and minicamp.  All that Starks would od is take away a spot from one of the young guys who could be gaining experience by practicing everyday with the O-Line.  Thats better then having an over weight injury prone, old average left tackle on the roster.
    And yes I am comfortable with the 7th rounder Beachum making the team.  He can be a swing guard plus play center.  That frees up Essex to play tackle.  The guy is super smart which means he will pick up the offense very easily.  Also, he will gain weigh and strength  by being on the team.  I bet he will be bigger and stronger by the time the season starts.  He has had time to do it since April, thats five months by the time the season starts.  I’m sure the team has put him on some kind of program.
    In conclusion; yes it would be regressing to bring Starks back.  Bringing back an old vet who is slow, injury prone, over weight, and only average instead of working with a good young talent with a great O-Line coach.  The young talent is quicker, younger, not over weight, with no injuries.  I ask you now, which is better, old, slow, injury prone, and over weight or, younger, quicker, not over weight, with no injuries!

  • DomDiTolla

    Where in my post did I specifically state that I have no faith in Kugler?  Hmm.  Oh that’s right, nowhere!  Kugler has in fact gotten more out of less with this unit over his tenure here, and if you want to, reference some of my past posts where I state exactly that. 
    Furthermore,  I just brought up a valid point that Adams struggled at Ohio State against some speed rushers.  He got eaten alive by Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, and there are some far better speed rushers at the next level.  Anybody that says that Adams is a wasted draft pick if he isn’t ready this season is ridiculous in my book, and I have not met anybody which has espoused that type of rhetoric.  Different guys take different amounts of time to develop, and if he’s good to go this season, great, if he isn’t, who cares, he’s got raw talent galore and people that understand football will be willing to see how he pans out.
    As for me saying that Beachum will not make the team and I’m not comfortable with him?  There you go again, making things up when I specifically stated that he won’t be ready to play for a couple of years.  In fact, nowhere did I say that he would not make the team this season.  He just needs a year or two of seasoning to work on his technique, settle into a position, and a chance to put on some weight.
    As for no injuries:  There is still training camp, the preseason, and a whole regular season to go.  What makes you so sure that the projected Offensive Line is going to stay intact for the Steelers this season?  Over the last five seasons or so, I along with the rest of this fanbase have seen this unit decimated by injuries.  Having a cheap veteran option like Starks on speed-dial cannot hurt.  Moreover, do you have evidence to support your aforementioned claims, or is it one of your “I believe” hunches with zero factual evidence you have littered this comments section with?
    I hate to restate the obvious again, but again you missed the entire point of my article: Starks can provide depth if he is healthy and eventually makes the team.  If he is beaten out, then great.  Yet in the event that injuries or poor play occur, and he’s available and ready, then he can’t hurt to have a phone call away for the 2012 season.

  • y4adollar

    Starks or Scott. Scott had chancs last year and they had to bring Starks back. Why is Scott on the team at $2m? I think it’s because he came with Kugler from Buffalo. Kugler couldn’t use Urbek, who is now a rising star in buffalo but insists on keeping Scott? Starks has played well on SB teams and it looks like Scott shouldn’t be a Scott is a tackle at all. Cinsidering that either man will cost the same and from watchiing both play its obvious that Starks is the better choice so why isn’t he on the team?

  • DomDiTolla

     @y4adollar Even though there is some disagreement in this comments section, I think we can all come together and says that Jonathan Scott needs to go.  He was a liability out there last season and Big Ben paid the price.  Kugler may be familiar with him, but Scott would be at best the #4 Tackle on this roster now, and he is not worth keeping around when that salary could be spent on Wallace or other depth.
    As for Urbik, the Steelers had no use for him since Foster beat him out on the depth chart for the backup (and later starting role) behind Trai Essex at Right Guard during their Rookie seasons.  It also didn’t help that Legursky beat Urbik out as well for an interior backup job, and the Line was solidified by the addition of Pouncey and later Gilbert.  It became a numbers game in 2010 when Chris Scott was added through the Draft (but later injured), and Urbik simply didn’t make the cut.  While Urbik found a starting spot in Buffalo, David DeCastro’s upside as a run and pass blocker is way higher than Urbik’s ever will be and I would consider him a huge upgrade at the position.
    To your final point, the big reason Starks isn’t on the team right now is due to his injury-prone nature.  The team isn’t sure about his health, and rightfully so because he has suffered injuries in the past.  The main point of the article however is that if Starks proves to be healthy he should at least be given a shot to compete for a backup spot and add depth at the Tackle position in case something goes wrong.