STARKS BIDING HIS TIME FOR FREE AGENCY?
Posted by Mike Florio on August 15, 2008, 3:34 p.m.
With a guaranteed one-year contract worth nearly $7 million and a shot at hitting in March 2009 a market that pays long-term contracts worth $7 million per year to so-so players, the buzz coming out of Steelers camp is that tackle Max Starks is merely going through the motions.
As one source put it, Starks’ training-camp performance has been among the worst on the entire team. Indeed, he’s still stuck behind Willie Colon at right tackle.
But it doesn’t matter for Starks; he’ll still get his money.
The reason he’s getting the money is because the Steelers opted to retain an opportunity to match any offers he might have gotten on the open market earlier this year via the transition tag, which provided a right of first refusal but no compensation if he had left. Use of the tag required tender of a one-year, $6.895 million salary.
And once Starks signed the tender after realizing that no other team was interested in taking the time to negotiate a deal that the Steelers could then bogart, the salary became fully guaranteed.
For roughly $500,000 more, the Steelers could have used the franchise tag on Faneca, and at a minimum could have gotten a draft pick or two by thereafter trading him.
In hindsight, that would have been the better move. And if anyone is looking for tangible evidence of how the unsettled ownership situation could be affecting the football operation, the decision to keep Starks for $6.895 million instead of Faneca for $7.45 million could be it.