Max Starks Says His Knee Is On Pace To Be Ready By Mid July

It was a busy day on Tuesday for Steeler Nation as the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 schedule was announced and the new 1934 throwback jerseys and uniforms were unveiled. One last bit of information to pass along today is that unrestricted free agent tackle Max Starks reported via Twitter on Tuesday that his surgically repaired right knee is doing very well. He claims that he is ahead on his rehab protocol and is getting his strength back in it. Starks added that he is on pace to be ready by mid July for play and fully intends to play somewhere in 2012.

Starks had the ACL repaired that he tore in the AFC Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos back in mid January and it certainly seems that he will be ready, or close to ready, by the time training camps get started. This latest update keeps him on course with the last update that he gave about three weeks ago on SiriusXM Radio. In that interview Starks said he has every intention of returning to the Steelers in 2012.

The 2012 NFL draft is now right around the corner and the Steelers are expected to draft both a tackle and a guard at some point. The depth behind starters Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon is thin right now, with Jonathan Scott and Trai Essex being the only remaining players on the roster with game experience at the tackle spot. Scott carries a 2.2 million base salary and is no way considered a lock right now to make it to training camp, at least not at that number. Essex has lost even more weight it appears this offseason and likely a better fit inside as an interior depth swing guy headed into camp.

Will the Steelers have room for Starks late in July, assuming he is medically cleared? I would not rule it completely, but admit that it looks highly unlikely right now. Starks would be an upgrade over Scott though and likely would come at a much cheaper price in the form of a one-year qualified contract. Keep in mind that the Steelers still have $2 million in dead money on the books in 2012 because of the release of Starks last offseason. That money is dead regardless if Starks returns or not, but at least the Steelers could feel that they are getting a little bang for that dead money charge should Starks return as a one-year swing tackle.

As I mentioned above, I think it is unlikely to happen, but Starks is one of the good guys, and maybe this post at the very least will help keep his name in the news cycle, and in the back of the minds of other teams that might be looking to add an experienced tackle just before the draft.

Keep on working Max, several of us a hoping you get play somewhere in 2012.