I have been asked how the Steelers were able to afford Max Starks being as they were so strapped for cap room so I thought I would post the specifics in a short post.
Before Starks signed his one year deal for the vet minimum the Steelers reportedly just under the salary cap by less than a million. The new Starks deal only counts $575,000 against the cap because it was a one-year vet minimum deal with the maximum allowed signing bonus of $50k to qualify. The Steelers will pay him $860,000 this year, but as I mentioned, he only counts $575k against the 2011 cap.
The Steelers released second year lineman Chris Scott to make room for Starks and his 2011 base salary was not guaranteed as a non-vested player. The Steelers are still on the hook for the remaining $94K or so of the signing bonus they gave him with his rookie contract, but that should be able to be split over this year and next. That means that means they cleared $450,000 of salary cap room by cutting him. It merely cost them $125k more of cap space to re-sign Starks.
As I mentioned in a post last night, Starks was already counting $2 million in dead money against the 2011 cap following his release. If you add the $575k that his new contract cost against the cap it totals out to Starks counting $2.575k against the 2011 cap. Prior to his release before training camp he was schedule to count $7.25 against the 2011 cap.