Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Steelers Place Transition Tag on Max Starks

In a bit of shocking news, the Steelers today placed the transition tag on free agent OT Max Starks. Essentially, it's a 1 year tender offer worth $6.875 million. However, this does not preclude Starks from shopping himself on the market. But unlike the franchise tag, the transition tag provides no compensation to the Steelers should Starks sign an offer sheet with another team.

Personally, I don't really like the move. It's time to move on and re-tool this offensive line. Starks played pretty well in the home stretch at LT in place of Marvel Smith, but the idea of shelling out $7 million for his services this season seems a little too expensive for my taste. In all likelihood, this is a precusor to ramp up efforts to ink him to a long-term deal, but I don't like that idea either. To me, he's just not worth it. Based on the amount of money Starks will receive (either through the tender or the long-term deal), one of two things will happen should Starks be on the roster this season:

1) He will take over at left tackle, and Marvel Smith will be released sometime this offseason to save some money.

2) Starks will take over at RT, and Colon will kick inside to guard.

As a whole, I don't like the way the front office has approached addressing the offensive line. It was quite clear help was needed last offseason, and the only significant addition was signing a scrub from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No premium picks were invested along the O-line in the 2007 draft. I was in favor of not showering Alan Faneca with tons of cash, but on the flip side they signed Kendall Simmons to an extension that reeked of desperation. And now, it seems like they want to retain a guy who had a couple decent games towards the end of the season and lavish him with a nice fat contract. Look, the Steelers front office knows what they're doing, and they sure as hell know more than me. That said, it's fair to be critical of them at times, and in my opinion this is one of those times.

End of Post


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't know what to think. It's obvious the front office is desperate for any sort of continuity on the offensive line, though part of me thinks it would be best to just blow the fucking thing up and grab five new guys in the draft this year.

Sam said...

I don't mind the deal at all, assuming we have the cap space this year and it won't seriously affect our chances to land another somewhat impactful free agent.

If you take the mindset that Starks was a free agent and that we signed from another team, a hulking tackle with upside, we would be happier about it, even if the fans from the other team told us his limitations. I just don't see any risk from the deal.

Dave Wannstache said...

It's not a given yet that Starks stays. Some team could still definitely give him a huge offer in free agency. The transition tag does allow us to match the offer, though. I think that you have to look at it as Starks was our one free agent signing. With his $7 million cap figure, Ben's extension, and money for draft picks, I don't think we'll have enough left to compete in the free agent market. Of course, there are always ways to play with the cap if you want, so I guess they still could be a player in free agency if they want.

I don't know, I just look at it this way. We've spent all this money on the same offensive line we've been villifying the last two seasons. Simmons got an extension. Starks could get an extension. Mahan got his deal. Kemo is talking extension with the team. We're paying for the same slop we've been putting on the field for the last two seasons, and that's what I don't get.