Kevin Colbert Discusses Future Of Willie Colon & Max Starks

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.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Can’t the Steelers save an additional $4 or 5M against this year’s cap if they cut Colon with a June 1 designation?

  • SteelersDepot

    Still have to carry the cap hit until that date, so keep that mind.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I hope Colon is back. Way to good to release for only $1.2 mill net gain. For years the O line has had too much of a lack of talent to release him. Not to mention a new O line coach, makes it a good idea to have vets around.

  • He played decent at guard, but he is still good for 1-2 penalties a game. I wouldn’t call him “way too good” for anything.

  • TJimmy

    Colon has the physical talents but appears to be a slow learner. I remember he wasn’t playing well as a tackle either until he finally came into his own. He’ll be too valuable to let go for next year, and they have little to lose in keeping him.

    Reading between the lines I think Colbert will be keeping him.

  • Garrett Hunt

    For most things no, but for the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line, yes. When was the last time we had our line not be our weakness? The solution is not to get rid of our quality players.

  • zyzak

    Steelers need a really good line coach, I wonder if they can hire the NE coach

  • NW86

    Let’s keep in mind that the actual savings by cutting Colon is his $5.5M salary, both in terms of actual cash and his total cap hit over the life of his contract. Yes, cutting him only saves $1.2M in cap money for 2013, but that’s because it pulls $4.3M of dead money forward from 2014 and 2015. So, by cutting him you bite the bullet now and remove dead money from those years. This is important because with restructures, the Steelers cap situation will be tight again for at least a couple more years. This would allow you to restructure more money back into those years from guys like Ben and Woodley, so you really have to look at the overall picture for the life of the contract.

  • steeltown

    I would really love to keep Starks another year. Not only have Gilbert and Adams suffered injury early on, but neither has shown capable of playing LT

    Also if Colon stays, Foster will most likely be gone and that is the opposite of what the Steelers thought proccess should be, letting durable young players leave and keeping overpaid, injury prone older players on roster is not the way you fix an 8-8 Team!

    I guess we’ll see

  • I think it’s a good idea to bring Colon back. Give him one more shot to stay healthy. Ramon Foster might be difficult to resign, so who else would we put at LG. The big question with Max Starks is, can Marcus Gilbert play LT? If we lose Starks than the Steelers are taking a big gamble. Geeez, I hope these guys know what they’re doing. I’m starting to get real sick and tired worrying about the O line.

  • steeltown

    If the Steelers keep Colon, the time is now for them to again ask Colon to take a paycut. If I remember correctly he refused this notion before and ultimately restructured, but now with another seat on IR filled with HIS butt in 2012, he should accept it and take a paycut.

    Question: Bryan, How do paycuts work? I know players have taken paycuts in their final yr of contract (Hampton) but is it common to ask a player to take a straight cut in the middle of contracted years? Also how would it work, are they usually ‘one year’ straight base salary cuts?

  • Let the only guy on the team that has been an even remotely competent LT over the last few years walk for cheap? I know they’ve been on a disrespect Max kick for the last two years, basically trying to put anyone else they can at LT, but they can’t REALLY be THAT stupid, can they?

    Oh, and draft Barrett Jones to finish off building a quality young line.

  • steeltown

    Would be over $5million they save, I think.

    I myself, I’m still hoping they re-sign Foster and release Colon after June 1st.. it’s time to cut overpaid, older injury prone players. But it sure sounds like Colbert is considering keeping him

  • steeltown


    I sound like a broken record, but I believe its time to cut some of these overpaid, older injury prone players. We can start with Colon. But, if that happens they should re-sign Foster and rightfully so, Foster, unlike Colon actually deserves a contract

  • Maurice_hill_district

    The media was right to ask the GM if will try to keep players, in this case Colon & Starks, but no surprise a GM doesnt answer the question. They rarely do. Colbert mite not yet know 100% whether he’ll cut Colon but I guarantee Colbert is mostly-sure already of what they will do with Colon, just keeping tight-lipped.

    It’d be nice if BArians wuld trade us a late draft pick for anyone who we are stuck with, even tho we’d take a cap hit we can use the draftpicks.

  • Pete

    Who do we have behind Colon if he’s released? They talk about San Fran’s O line having 3 first round picks and I saw the gaping holes they were making last week. I think Pouncey, Adams and DeCastro are going to be the core of the O line. Foster can take Willie’s place but where is the depth especially if Max goes elsewhere?

  • steeltown

    Exactly, Gilbert and Beachum are the only other players who have played and shown capable and Legursky of course, but he too might be gone. I think Beachum or Malecki could end up being the backup Center of the future and they better hope Gilbert can handle LT

    IF Starks and Colon are both gone, they better re-sign Foster {please) but even then they almost surely draft ANOTHER OLineman in the mid Rds because as you mentioned there will be no depth

  • steeltown

    Yea.. if Foster leaves via FA, they keep Colon in my opinion

  • I could argue that the solution also isn’t to hold on to barely above average players.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. Overpaid injury plagued players are part of the problem, not the solution

  • Maurice_hill_district

    All of that is correct.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Yep, agreed. Also, cutting Colon avoids him getting hurt again on our team next year. Is there anyone who isnt sure he will get hurt again next year. So why not let him ride someone elses bench? I dont see any point in counting on him.

  • Maurice_hill_district


  • Mike Carroll

    Dave already mentioned this yesterday, but the $1.2 cap savings is only part of the story with Colon. He is set to make $5.5M in salary this season which the ownership would need to be willing to pay him out of their pockets. If I’m Art Rooney, I’m letting Colbert know that I’m not paying $5.5M to a guy who’s played in only 25% of games over the last three seasons. And if Colon is released (and he definitely will be unless he takes a massive pay cut), you’ll see that no other team will pay Colon anything close to that amount either.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Agreeing with that. I assume NE’s o-line coach for protected Brady gets paid a fortune more than Rooneys wuld pay anyone. We only get whichever o-line coach is cheap. There’s no salary cap for paying coaches, & with our glaring need to improve blocking, if there is any oline coach who can make a difference Rooneys need to crack open their bulging wallet.

  • Mike Carroll

    Arizona has a terrible O-line, so it won’t be a surprise for Arians to bring in at least one lineman that was on the Steelers roster last year.

  • Mike Carroll

    There’s zero possiblity of the NE line coach coming to Pittsburgh. I’ve seen someone mention Mike Tice as a possibility now that the Bears fired him as their OC.

  • Isaac Reveles

    ryan Lee looked promising

  • steeltown

    He did, but I think R.Lee is currently on the Saints roster

  • steeltown

    Holy #$@% that would be nice! Would love to see Tice in Pittsburgh as OL Coach. He had his ups and downs in Chicago, but was very successful as OL Coach and then ultimately HC of the Minnesota Vikings back in early 2000’s

  • Dan

    As mentioned in the thread above the true savings is the $5.5m salary, the $1.2m is the cap savings for 2013. As Colbert said these are acute injuries and not injuries due to deteriation/age/wear & tear. That being said, it would be hard to argue against someone who called him fragile. Maybe not Leftwich fragile, but fragile nontheless. I would be ok to keep him at a reduced salary.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I guess we will just have to wait and see how he plays if he is kept. Just remember i’m telling you now I think he is very capable of pro-bowl like seasons at guard when he gets comfortable.

  • steeltown

    I agree, he played very well, when healthy but he cant stay healthy, 3 consecutive yrs on IR, they should never have offered him that big contract after he missed an entire season. I’ll never understand that move. It would be the equivalent of giving Gilbert a huge contract this offseason

  • Garrett Hunt

    Na Colon showed more before injury than Gilbert. (At least a larger sample)

  • Ahmad

    I think we got him back but don’t quote me.

  • steeltown

    I somewhat agree.. but my point is I dont understand locking a guy up long term after he missed an entire season due to injury

  • steeltown

    No, he’s on the Saints roster at this time.. sucks… but we do have another decent young OG, Justin Cheadle, was an All Pac-12 Honorable mention, smart kid, played alot of football.. he’s a project, could be backup swing OG

    We did get David Gilreath back though, which is cool, kid is a good special teams guy, very quick (check out his college stats and bio) dude had 28 career games with atleast 100 all purpose yds. He’s another undersized guy that wouldve been drafted high if he was 20lbs heavier, with Rainey gone look for Gilreath to make the Team this year as the #5 WR and kick/punt returner