Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert continued his media rounds on Thursday and that included a morning interview on 93.7 The Fan.
Colbert answered several questions about the upcoming offseason and was asked specifically about offensive linemen Willie Colon and Max Starks, and if he thought either would be with the team in 2013.
“It\’s too early to determine,” said Colbert. “Of course Willie is still under contract and when you look at Willie\’s injuries, they\’ve been acute incidents. Even the knee injury that he suffered this year wasn\’t a result of a wear and tear type thing, it was an acute blow to that area that started the inflammation of his knee. So obviously there\’s collisions, and again, you worry about durability, I don\’t worry about it so much from an acute, happenstance of the game, but more the accumulative effect. The soft tissue injuries, the arthritic deterioration of joints. You worry about those things when you talk about older players.”
“But then you look at a guy like Max, who had some serious acute injuries last year with the knee, and the year before that with the neck, and he\’s able to show up and play 16 games for you. So that indicates to us that some of the guys that had concerns with like I said, the acute injury, was able to come back. So hopefully with some of these other guys still can. You know Willie has had some bad luck, you know he was playing well prior to the knee flaming up on him at the end of the year, so we have to weigh that in as well.”
As Colbert pointed out, Colon is still under contract for the 2013 season. However, he did tell the media on Wednesday that some terminations were likely to be on the way as the next objective for the team is to be cap compliant by the time the March deadline rolls around.
As I pointed out in a post on Thursday, Colon is one of four players that have to be considered candidates to be terminated prior to the March deadline. Releasing Colon prior to June 1st only saves the team $1.2 million in cap space, so they will certainly be forced to monitor his situation closely over the next several weeks as he recovers from surgery on his left knee. Should Colon make it through the March deadline, it won\’t necessarily mean that he is 100% safe as the Steelers could still decide to release him after June 1st. At that point they would reap an even bigger cap savings in 2013, although it would result in a $ 4.3 dead money charge in 2014.
Starks is a completely different story as he is currently an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He will be allowed to test free agency, but did say after the season ended that he would be open to returning next season, but only if he was a starter. Starks said that he thinks that he has a few more years left in him still but also admitted that he is pretty much resigned to the fact that 2012 was his last season in Pittsburgh because the team has two young tackles that they drafted in the form of Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams.
If Starks does return in 2013 it would most likely be because he received little or no attention during the free agent signing period. Even then he would have to agree to one-year qualifying contract for the minimum with no guarantees that he would be the starter. Signings such as that usually only take place very, very late in the offseason. I have a feeling that when the smoke clears that he will be in a different uniform and I bet Colbert has that same feeling as well.