A Sign? Steelers Yet To Reissue Max Starks Jersey Number 78

Steelers Max Starks 78Before reading this post I suggest that all of you put on your Steelers Depot black and gold tin foil hats. Is everyone ready?

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 draft is now behind us and the undrafted free agents have been identified. On Monday we treated to the annual issuing of jersey numbers to all of the rookies and we were slapped with the reality that the No. 51 jersey that had been worn for the last decade by James Farrior will at least for now be worn by third round draft pick Sean Spence. These types of things need to happen when you have a roster consisting of 90 players as there is really no way around it. In addition the Steelers have only retired one number in the history of the franchise and that of course is the No. 70 worn by the great Ernie Stautner.

When you peruse the updated roster list you see quite a few double entries of numbers. One is always a player from on offense and the other is a player on defense when deciphering these duplicates. As I said above, when you have 90 players that must wear certain numbers to coincide with their positions, this kind of stuff is going to happen. All I can say is thank God, that the No. 86 has not been reissued just yet. It will likely happen at some point, but seeing the No. 51 already reissued as I mentioned above is enough reality for now.

Scanning on down the roster list you will notice that two numbers in the 70\’s, other than that of Stautner, have yet to be issued. Those two numbers of course are No. 75 and No. 78. No. 75 should be pretty obvious to you, and if not, please stop reading now. The yet to be issued No. 78 is the reason why you need to be wearing your tin foil hat to read this post. That number of course belonged to tackle Max Starks, who is currently an unrestricted free agent that is continuing to rehab from surgery to repair a torn ACL that he suffered in the Steelers loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card game.

I have been posting status reports on the recovery of Starks this entire offseason and he has stated more than once that it is his desire to play for the Steelers again in 2012. While the drafting of Mike Adams in the second round of the draft this past weekend might have hurt those chances, there seems to still be one spot on the 53 man roster that could be available when and if Jonathan Scott is sent packing. Starks still has a long way to go in his rehab and he will be pushing it close to be ready by the start of training camp.

We can look at the Starks situation from several angles here. The Steelers could certainly use a healthy Starks for depth purposes. Should Scott end up being jettisoned prior to the start of the season, it would leave the rookie Adams and perhaps another tackle on the roster that does not have game experience to serve as the next man up in case starters Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon go down injured. A few might disagree with me, but I think Adams will be a project for a while. Mid-season is when I expect him to be ready to contribute.

Should Starks be close to being ready by the start of training camp, the Steelers could always sign him to a one-year qualified contract that comes with a reduced cap hit and let him start the preseason on the ACTIVE/PUP list while he at least learns the new offense that new offensive coordinator Todd Haley is installing. That would give Starks an extra 6 weeks or so to continue his rehab under the watchful eye of the team doctors and get him back around the guys in addition. Keep in mind that he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are pretty close.

Should Starks still not be ready by the time the final cut downs take place at the end of preseason, he could be placed on the RESERVE/PUP list to get another 6 weeks worth of recovery time. He would not count against the 53 man roster at that point and his cap hit would be easy to swallow. Once he is ready after his six week stay on the PUP list, he could return to the sidelines to serve as the Steelers swing tackle. In the mean time the Steelers could cover their asses by holding on to Scott and ask him to take a pay cut prior to week one if he wants to stay.

Of course the No. 78 might not have been reissued out of shear coincidence, but it sure makes you wonder. It is now safe to remove your tin foil hats, but please keep them within arms\’ reach of you for future post.

Who reading this thinks Max will be back this year at some point?

UPDATE: As Dave notes in the comments, when you click on the name of tackle Trevis Turner it shows No. 78 on his bio page. I guess we will have to wait and see if the official roster is updated to reflect this. Until then, keep your tin foil hats handy.

  • zbluez1

    Is it just me, or does this time of the year seem to make everyone use a lot more tin foil than usual? Seriously, it will take time to get all the youngsters ( Rookies and 1-2 yr guys ) up to speed and rolling. While I am a fan of the youth movement especially on re-tooling the O-line and even of some of the UDFA pick ups; I am also not a fan of getting Ben killed while they get their feet under them. Max is a good insurance policy to have at tackle, much better in my opinion then J. Scott, so having him around one more year, even if he just rides the pine for the last half of the year is money well spent as long as there isn’t any spent on Scott, just my opinion for whatever it is worth to someone who is not me.

  • I agree I do not believe J. Scott should make the 53 man roster. He is the definition of a scrub player. I think Max should be brought back if hes cleared because he was good enough to start for us last year on our rag tag line. About #86, I think Hines’s Jersey should be retired…eventually. Hes a future HoF and he is the most prolific receiver in our history.

  • Grw1960

    it could also be a precaution or an under the table warning to Adams.

    We Still have number 78 available if you (Adams) don’t meet expectations.

  • Daveb1952

    I agree Adams is going to take a while, a long while if ever at LT, at RT maybe not so long. My feelingo too

    Hey Z, good thing I just bought some stock in Alcoa……. Just joking….

  • Jprankster2005

    i wouldn’t mind having starks back at min…. And I hope they release Scott asap to save that 2.2 million…… I can’t believe he ain’t gone already……..Starks and Adams have the same size and Adams can learn a little from Starks….. Scott is a bum and can’t believe he’s still here…..He should of been the first cut they made……..

  • SteelSpine

    That’s exactly my thoughts. And I agree w DBryan top-to-bottom & I love the tin foil hats warning – very appropriate heh!

    Sean Kugler having brought Jonathan Scott with him from Buffalo, to me Kugler lowered his own credibility since JScott’s a turnstyle & Kugler couldnt get anything out of him.

    Isnt Max Starks a You-never-know-what-ya-had-til-ya-lose-him. Remember up til Starks was gone a couple years ago, Starks was always considered dependable & good-enough but lacking fire/intensity. Then after he was gone, we saw turnstyles at tackle then we missed Starks as if he’s greatest thing in the world. It took massive depletions of players before Stelers brass finally brot Starks back last year, so maybe the staff learned their lesson: Fat or not, if Starks is better than what ya have, then gotta pony up.

  • SteelersDepot

    Ok, you Ryan Lee fans, I talked to him tonight and the interview should be part of the Friday podcast

  • SteelSpine

    I agree, top to bottom!

    And Hines for linebackers coach ๐Ÿ™‚ Hines woulda been a fine safety, if his hands werent good & if he had therefore wanted to play safety. And to think Hines was a QB in college! So much for “QBs wear skirts”. (On the other hand that Dancing With Stars flamboyant outfis did drop him down a notch in the tough-guy category.)

  • Sonny

    Adams will play week one, he is better than Starks and has longer arms and good feet.

  • Eric87

    Adama may take a while to develop and I havent seen much tape on him, but I think I wouod rather have him playing than J. Scott anyday. That guy is just plain horrible. Maybe Scott should be a guard

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    Jonathan Scott got owned by Suggs, but other then that he isn’t as horrible as everybody says, in my opinion. I remember Gilbert getting benched during the season and Scott played pretty well. He just can’t be a starter, but as a backup he wasn’t bad. Now, why a backup is getting his kinda money is a different issue and therefore he should go. Although I’m not a big Max Starks fan, I would definitely prefer to have a backup of his caliber over Scott any day

  • I have mentioned it elsewhere, and I’ll say the same here. I think our best line this year would be: Starks (LT), DeCastro (LG), Pouncey (C), Colon (RG), Gilbert (RT) with Adams playing the backup role for the year. I am holding on to hope that they bring back Starks.

  • SteelersDepot

    I think that there are not many that would argue with that in week one.

  • Dave

    The weird thing is – Trevis Turner is listed as #67 on the Steelers roster, but when you click on his link, his picture shows him as #78….

    But I agree with most of the others here, they should cut J. Scott, save $2.2 mil (or whatever the exact number is) on the cap and then re-sign #78 Max Starks sometime this summer for depth.

  • zbluez1

    Yo Dave,
    Alcoa doesn’t make the gold and black tin foil !!!! Oooopppps!!!!

  • zbluez1

    They really have to coach them up !!!! ” I want my ten yards gentlemen, no matter who’s butt you gotta move, run over, or stomp into the ground. I want my ten yards !!!!!” (blows whistle) ” Hey rookie, this is PITTSBURGH, we all hit the sled together and on time !!!! ” ” AGAIN ” (blows whistle )

  • Wdmason

    Bring back Max!!

  • Harold

    Dave, I know we disagree on Adams but remember, the Steelers had him graded as a 1st round talent (before the off field issues). I doubt they graded Gilbert that high last year, and they had no problem inserting him in his rookie year. I think they will let Adams play sooner than you might expect.

    The other thing is, I think you’re making a huge assumption that both Colon and Starks will return to their pre-injury forms. If either of them shows a decrease in quickness, I think they will have serious issues handling speed rushers on the outside.

  • Reader783

    I know the Steelers have a history of fantastic players, and they never, save 1, retire numbers. However, I truly think that Hines Ward revolutionized the game at his position like no other player in NFL, let alone Steelers’, history, and may be the most beloved Steeler of all time, or at least in the past few decades. So my question to anyone who wants to respond, do you think that Hines Ward should have his number retired before it is reassigned, because in my opinion a number needs to be retired when you simply can not see another player in it; and I can’t see anyone else wearing that #86 for a long, long time.

  • SteelersDepot

    Had Colon not gotten injured, Gilbert would not had started. First round grade does not make you week 1 ready. Being ready makes you week 1 ready. Trust me when I say, Adams is FAR from ready. Only one way to find out with Colon and Starks. I am not a doctor.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The consnsus is that Scott should go and I agree…we need that cap money…it would be nice to bring Starks back for at least his veteran leadership and Dave makes a nice way in which we could get him cheaply and have him hear…however a couple of PS guys are ready to make their case to make this team, Malecki and Turner, we love competition.

  • LabRat0116

    Trevis Turner ? Where did this kid come from ????

  • zbluez1

    It is so hard to retire a number permanently and not have the player not be a totally acknowledged all time great and while Hines may be one the great Steelers there has ever been; is he greater than Ham, Lambert, Greene, Franco, Swann, Stallworth, Brown, Woodson, Dudley, Kolb, White, Bleier, Wagner, Shell, Shipkey, Layne, Nickle, Lake, J.H. Johnson, Greenwood, Russell, Butler, Dawson, Stautner, Webster, Blount, and …….???

    I respect and appreciate Hines for all he has done for the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh, for that smile that just reached out through the TV cameras to Steeler nation around the world, for that ” bring it on, give me your best and you’ll get mine ” infectious attitude that not only raised the play of the players around him, but the spirits of Steeler nation. The man deserves to be in the H.O.F. in my opinion. But, is he greater then the rest of the greats who each had their own moments in the sun, Steeler history, and Steeler lore who haven’t had their numbers retired? Heart hauntingly, no…..should it be shelved for a few years, yes! That I can see and would prefer to see happen, but when an organization has had so many greats in 80 years, won 6 Lombardi’s, has 25 players in the H.O.F. and has only retired one ( 1 ) number in its existence. I have to say no they shouldn’t ….damn it!

  • zbluez1

    The practice squad ….last year

  • SteelSpine

    Totally agree. I think staff wont move Colon to guard because the $$ already guaranteed to Colon for this year. Colon’s on-the-books guaranteed $ for this year is the bonus they recently paid him of I-think $3.5 mil per restructured his deal within the past year, therefore Steeler brass could say Steelers wouldnt pay a guard that much money, the brass would point-out our guards get paid less than that. I’m not saying it’s good for any team to look at it that way as far as which position to play him & I’m not sayin $3.5 mil is much more than the roughly $1.3 mil tender for other guard(s), I just think Steelers brass unfortunately will look at it that way. I wish & hope they wont look at it that way.

    Now if Colon had instead accepted a pay cut so his total on-the-books for this year would have been down in that lower number, anything goes, including move him or cut him if by-chance he’s not performing well by end of training camp.

  • Nolrog

    Starks is an upgrade to Scott. Probably cheaper too. It makes sense to bring him back.

  • Jwallac5

    It’s a sign that #78 will be retired!!!


    Remember Mewelde Moore? His number was not assigned, either.

  • Hiddenaway

    I have to imagine Kugler knows how to evaluate and will get “the five best guys on the filed”. I agree that Colon back at RT is most likely, wth Starks or Gilbert at LT. Adams will ride the pine at first unless called upon because of injury. Kugler wants it to be consistent, they don’t want the shuffle nightmare that was last year.

  • MikeW

    We’ve seen a few Steelers wear 88 and 82 since the 70’s but I can’t recall anyone else ever wearing 32, 12, 58, 59, 52. Any other numbers that are “unofficially” unavailable?

  • Pete

    We don’t know whether Adams will be able to step in and play right away or not, as Kugler said. Every guy is different.
    If Adams can’t start right away then keeping Starks around is the best policy in my opinion. I agree Starks would add depth even if he isn’t starting. Starks vs JScott? Are you kidding me? No brainer. We know (and the coaches too) the value of Starks after last years silly decision to wait half a season before bringing him back. I think Kugler’s loyalty to JScott clouded his vision.

  • family

    let the rookies (rd 1-3) play no matter what it will be better for team.Hampton as not been good for 21/2 years and coming off a acl no way hes any good we need to keep 2nd year MG at rt let adam come in n play LT right out the bat sign max to back him up colon side inside if he can make the move if he cant let him go let dd a lg if colon can make the move insid and let rook nt stater right away i bet he wont get handle but just a center like ham have been the last two years

  • Wdmason

    I agree that Gilbert was inserted out of sheer desperation in his rookie year due to injury and only with the return of Starks was the line somewhat stabilized. Hopefully we will not be in such a desperate situation this year. Bringing back Max is a no brainer. Hes not asking for the money Flozell was..

  • Wdmason

    Dwight White?

  • Reader783

    It might be that players don’t want the responsibility of living up to those numbers, haha. I know that if I were a rookie, I wouldn’t grab 32 and listen to people say “He’s gotta be the next Franco Harris”

  • Mwormack

    I like Starks a lot more than I like Scott, despite the injury to Starks. I see Starks as a good backup if he can return to the form he played at last year. Idealy, I would like to see, Adams, Castro, Pouncey, Colon, Gilbert on the line. Legursky is great for interior debth, outside I don’t think you pay Scott 3 mil to be a backup, so I would cut him if Starks is healthy or just hope someone outplays both of them in camp. But starting two rookies on the Oline will be a tall order at the begining of the season.

  • zbluez1

    There is no way as a player I would take #58, I just want you to know that Mr. Lambert, eh,….sir. It’s okay I will wear #whatever you want me to wear, k? eh, sir?