Jul 16th 2008 8:27AM by JJ Cooper (author feed)
Filed under: Steelers, AFC NorthRemember when the Steelers slapped a puzzling transition tag on Max Starks, it was all about figuring out a way to get a long-term deal with Starks–the $6.9 million transition tag was just a way to buy some time. And after all, the Steelers could pull the tag at any time.
Then Starks signed the deal–after getting no offers from any other team. It seemed like a disappointing development for the Steelers, but the team seemed to make it clear that it would work to get a long-term deal that would lower his massive cap hit.
Well, thrown all that out. At 4 p.m. yesterday, the Steelers’ chances of working out a long-term deal with Starks disappeared. As a transition player, Starks now can not sign a new deal until after the 2008 season ends. So Pittsburgh is on the hook for $6.9 million (and the resulting cap hit) for a tackle who will head to training camp battling for a starting job. Yes, Starks is now one of the highest-paid tackles in the league, and he’s not assured he’ll be starter.
Now Pittsburgh faces a pair of bad situations. With both Bryant McFadden and Starks, the Steelers have a pair of potential starters who are headed into the final year of their deals. With each of them, if they earn starting jobs and play well, they’ll likely price themselves out of the Steelers price range. And if they don’t earn starting jobs this year, they’re both be less likely to stick with the Steelers (why not go somewhere where you can start?).