They say breaking up is hard to do. The Pittsburgh Steelers and free agent tackle Max Starks can attest.
The Steelers have had a love-hate relationship with Max Starks since drafting him in 2004 that has seen the front office offer him a transition tender only to see the coaches start the season with Starks on the bench.
That was in 2008, and Starks bailed out the team and helped lead them to victory in Super Bowl XLIII. One of the team’s first moves after the NFL 2011 lockout was to cut Max Starks. Starks was of course back in October, going from walking the streets to starting on consecutive Sundays.
Word was that when the Steelers drafted Mike Adams in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft their hopes were that Adams would replace Starks. But when it became clear in training camp that Mike Adams wasn’t quite ready to take over the reigns and left tackle, Starks was signed again.
Pittsburgh is thin at tackle, and Starks is still available, but again he’s not the preferred option, as the Steelers have signed veteran tackle Guy Whimper as reported a few days ago by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Whimper was originally drafted by the New York Giants in 2006 and played the last three seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Behind the Steel Curtain, (full disclosure, I also write for BTSC) labled the signing as curious, citing a Football Outsiders J.J. Cooper’s analysis that had Whimper giving up sacks in nine straight games in 2011. Interestingly enough, Cooper started 15 games in 2011 but was not a regular starter in 2012 and in fact was listed as a tackle/te in Pro Football Reference.
Whimper was signed for the league minimum, so the Steelers can easily cut him in training camp if he does not work out. And who knows, perhaps Max Starks will be available to replace him.