Sometimes it is hard to say goodbye.
- Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Max Starks can relate.
The Steelers have wanted to part ways with Max Starks since 2010, but injuries to Willie Colon and the debacle in Houston convinced them to bring him back in 2011.
Prior to that the Steelers attitude towards Max Starks could have best been characterized as “I don’t know why you’re saying goodbye, I’m saying hello” as the timeline below reveals.
Max Starks Timeline with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
- 2004 Steelers draft Starks in the third round
- 2005 Starks starts every game en route to victory in Super Bowl XL
- 2006 Injuries keep Starks out of final two games, but word is coaches already eyeing Willie Colon as replacement
- 2007 Starks begins year on bench, plays “tight end” in short yardage situations; Starks takes over as starter in December Marvel Smith gets injured, before Starks gets hurt himself
- 2008 – Off season – Front office names Stark “transition player.” Mike Tomlin deems him “starter capable”
- 2008 – Regular season – Stark begins year as highest paid non-starting tackle in NFL, but saves season after Marvel Smith hurt vs. Jacksonville
- 2009 Starks named Steelers franchise player, then signs four year contract in camp
- 2010 Starks goes on IR at mid season
- 2011 – Off season – Steelers cut Max Starks; Ben Roethlisberger wears No.78 to practice
- 2011 – Regular season – Steelers offensive line in tail spin after thrasing in Texas, Steelers recant commitment to youth and resign Starks
- 2011 – Post season – Max Starks injured in playoff Teebowing at Denver
- 2012 Steelers resign Max Starks
The disconnect between the front office and the coaches was real. Bruce Arians was reportedly not fond of him, which would explain his repeated vetoing of Willie Colon’s move to guard.
Likely Scenario Sees Steelers and Starks Parting Ways for Real in
Even though the Steelers have never had a clear head about what they want to do with Max Starks, he’s managed to make himself as a bedrock of the offensive line. He bailed them out in 2008, 2011 and in 2012 he was the only lineman to start every game in the same position. In spite of that…
- The odds strongly go against Starks being available to do that again in 2013.
The Steelers have invested heavily in their offensive line, picking Marcus Gilbert in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft and Mike Adams in the second round of 2012. You draft men to start in those rounds, and now is the time for the Steelers to find out if those men can fulfill their promise.
Beyond that, the Steelers have serious salary cap issues. Every dollar is precious, and that means that they probably cannot afford Starks even if he comes back at the veteran minimum, an unlikely prospect in and of itself.
Scenario that Sees Starks Sticking with Steelers
How could Max Starks return to Pittsburgh? For that to happen the 31 NFL teams would have to pass on a proven left tackle with two Super Bowl rings who has started 28 games in two years and 96 games overall.
That is an highly unlikely, however, it has happened before.
Before the Steelers resigned him in 2011, the Minnesota Vikings worked Starks out but said “no thanks.” Starks literally came off the street and started 12 straight games for the Steelers.
- Starks got no real takers as a free agent in 2012 either.
Even if the Steelers improbable run of luck with Starks’ availability were to hold up, something else would have to change for Starks to return, as he just doesn’t seem to be in their plans.