Steelers free agent right tackle Max Starks has signed his one-year transition tender, reports ESPN.
Although the Steelers named Starks their transition player, rumors had abounded as to the teams’ real level of interest in him. With the transition tag the Steelers would have the ability to match any offer from another NFL team, and the transition tag artificially raised the price other teams would have to pay.
While this strategy paid off – Starks got no other offers, the Steelers apparently could not reach a long term deal, which was their professed interest.
The timing of this move is also peculiar. Stark’s decision to accept the Steelers tender could have been tempered by increasing talk that the Steelers are going to draft Boston College tackle Gosder Cherilus.
Such speculation is just talk. The Steelers draft strategy will not be influenced by the media, but Starks may have been. The Steelers were free to remove the transition tag at any point, and may have done just that had they drafted a top tackle.
The Steelers can still sign Starks to a long-term contract, although they would figure to lose some leverage – most likely the team would like a lower cap number – the Rooneys are not going to pay someone 7 million dollars a year for several years who is not even currently a starter.
Starks gives the Steelers one more lineman to shuffle in and out of the training camp rotation, that will be a good thing in the here and now. Taking a longer view, Starks has a long way to go to prove that the Steelers were right to tie up 7 million dollars worth of cap space in him. Its good that we have them, but let’s hope the sign Starks lest he pocket 7 million only to become a free agent this year.