The Pittsburgh Steelers head into their season finale Sunday against the Cleveland Browns with only one player that has played every offensive snap this season. That player is left tackle Max Starks, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Starks made it known on Wednesday that he thinks he still has plenty of football left in him but doesn\'t want to return to Pittsburgh next season to just be a backup.
"I am not a backup yet,” Starks said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I still have a couple more years in me before I can even consider that role. They drafted two young guys in the second round the last two years, so do I think I will be here? Probably not, but at the same time, I feel that I have value somewhere."
The two young guys that Starks is referencing are second year tackle Marcus Gilbert and rookie tackle Mike Adams. Gilbert started just 5 games this season at right tackle before ultimately landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury and Adams, the Steelers second round draft pick from this past April, played in 10 games this season at right tackle before injuring his ankle in the Week 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Starks was an unrestricted free agent last offseason, but received very little attention late in the free agency period as he was recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered in the Wild Card game loss to the Denver Broncos. He resigned with the Steelers just a few weeks before the start of training camp and easily beat out Adams for the starting left tackle spot. It was the second season in a row that the Steelers former third-round draft pick came back from an injury to save the day at left tackle and it now appears likely that Sunday might very well be his final game in a Steelers uniform.
You can\'t really blame Starks for the stance that he has taken right now. Unfortunately the Steelers don\'t have the cap space in 2013 to offer him much more than the minimum that he played for this past season so Starks will entertain other offers once the free agency signing period begins. The only way he does return to Pittsburgh would be if he doesn\'t get offered a starting job and starting money elsewhere.