Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Free Agents Analysis: T Max Starks – Unrestricted

The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason continues on as we head into the Super Bowl weekend and we too will continue on now with our breakdown of the free agents as we inch closer towards the start of free agency. Next up on the list of unrestricted free agents is veteran tackle Max Starks.

Player: Max Starks

Position: Tackle

Experience: 9 Years

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

2012 Salary Cap Hit: $2,605,000.00 (Includes $2 million dead money charge from 2011 post June 1st release)

2012 Season Breakdown: Starks tore the ACL in his right knee during the 2011 Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos and spent the entire offseason rehabbing it as an unrestricted free agent. When finally cleared by the doctors he was re-signed by the Steelers to a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum just prior to the start of training camp. Although Starks started camp off on the PUP list, he had no problems beating out rookie Mike Adams for the left tackle spot and he would go on to play every snap on offense for the Steelers in 2012. That was quite an accomplishment for him, and the Steelers for that matter.

Starks no longer has the mobility that he once did, but his play was fairly even throughout the season. He did, however, allow 5 sacks, 8 quarterback hits during the year to go along with multiple pressures. Starks showed that he can still consistently control the edge against pass rushers, but was not as successful at defending good inside moves or bull rushers that could get their arms inside his chest. His ability to cut block is not what it once was, nor was his ability to block down inside on running plays. In the running game Starks was fine with his double team blocks and very consistent with his single blocks and ability to turn defenders out. On the move, however, Starks was innefective. The Steelers, however, were once again a right handed running team in 2012 with less than 50 running plays going to left tackle or around the left end.

Despite the play of Starks not being Pro Bowl caliber last season, he should be commended for his effort. It is hard to imagine what would have happened had Adams been forced to play on the left side as a rookie, or God forbid, Jonathan Scott would have been retained. With Starks, you always knew what you were going to get and he was a great veteran player to have in the lockerroom in addition.

Free Agency Outlook: The hiring of Jack Bicknell Jr. as the Steelers new offensive line coach means that a switch to a more zone orientated blocking scheme is likely in the future. This blocking scheme requires offensive linemen that can bend well, move fluidly, and be athletic out in space. These traits, unfortunately, are ones that Starks no longer possesses.

Starks, like the several other unrestricted free agents that the Steelers have this offseason, will be allowed to test the free agency waters. The good thing going for him is that he was a picture of health in his first season back from his knee injury and that should give him some level of value. While Starks likely won\’t hit it big contract wise during free agency, another team that uses a man blocking scheme will more than likely give him a one or two year deal. Starks himself said after the 2012 season ended that he would be open to returning to Pittsburgh in 2013, but that he was not interested in being a backup as he feels that he can still be a starting tackle in the league. Being as the Steelers are looking to get Adams in the lineup as a starter at one of the two tackle spots moving forward, Starks has likely played his last down of football in Pittsburgh and it would be surprising to see him return even as a backup.

Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Charlie Batch – Unrestricted Free Agent
Casey Hampton – Unrestricted Free Agent
Plaxico Burress – Unrestricted Free Agent
Larry Foote – Unrestricted Free Agent
Byron Leftwich – Unrestricted Free Agent
Will Allen – Unrestricted Free Agent

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  • steeltown

    Sadly.. even if we werent switching to a zone orientated scheme, Starks would still not be back.. he deserves a multi-year contract.. and I guarantee that Arians is willing to give him one.. the Steelers have seemed reluctant to offer him another multi-year deal even though he’s bailed out the Team numerous times

    Good Luck Max

  • SteelerDave

    Max, thank you for your service and loyalty. Much appreciated.

  • LucasY59

    I agree the Starks won’t be a Steeler next season and that He and Foster were the two most consistant OLinemen they had (Pouncey obviously was good but missed a game due to injury and was not as good when they moved him over to LG)

    Both Starks (very likely) and Foster (if someone is willing to pay him more than the Steelers) could be gone. Neither are very good fits with a zone blocking scheme either. If that happens there is a need for OL in this draft. If Warmack is available at 17 (most dont want another high pick on either O or D line) that would solidify the line for many years/drafts to come so I think it would be worth it. If Adams is the LT with Warmack at LG the left side becomes the stronger running side especially since Decastro can pull to the left, I have said before the 1st pick for the Steelers needs to have an impact and be on the field which most likely means it needs to be a Offensive player. there is obvious need for depth on D, but the D did very well this season and it doesnt have the holes and ?s that the O has.

  • JohnnyV1

    It will all come down to money. If he finds a team that needs a starting OT, he will get paid and leave. If not, he might stick around. Max is a smart guy, he act accordingly.

  • SteelerDave

    I totally agree. Warmack if he falls to us is the best player we could draft. An O-line…. of Gilbert, Warmack, Pouncey, DeCastro, Adams would develop into one of the best O-lines in the games and all of those players fit our new O-line coach’s style. Beachum and hopefully Legursky plus a late round pick would give 8 solid players to dress on game days.

    The only thing we lack though is a HB whose style would fit behind that O-line.

  • Mike Carroll

    I’ve always liked Max, but I’m looking forward to moving ahead with the young guys.

  • Thanks Starks

  • Michael Mazanowski

    I love Starks with all my heart! Keep him! Wtf! WE NEED U MAX! Gilbert caused 2 of our guys to go on IR last year! Gilbert plays for Ravens! I would spend much time on getting Gilbert heavy on his toes!

  • dgh57

    I like your o-line except Gilbert! Is last year the start of a trend or 1 year thing with him being injured?

    Warmack will be long gone by the time the Steelers pick 17th. Could he fall to us? It happened last year with DeCastro! So unless you believe lightening can strike 2 times in the same spot IT COULD HAPPEN!!!!

    Will this team spend another high draft pick on the o-line after using 3 draft picks in last years draft? To me it depends on how SERIOUS you are in fixing the run game and moving the chains to keep your defense off the field!! I for one wish they would!

  • Jason White

    If we came up with another decent guard and Gilbert don’t work out at LT you could probably put Adams at LT and Beachum at RT. Then you would have an athletic O-line all the way across.

  • Jason White

    Me too but I have to admit I do fear the unknown a little bit. Outside of preseason none of the guys on the roster (besides Max) have experience playing left tackle at the pro level. Not saying they wont be able to plug Gilbert or Adams in and do just fine but Max always has been trustworthy. But fortunately we will likely be seeing a ton of zone blocking. Hopefully Gilbert dedicates himself to his conditioning over the offseason and sheds some excess pounds and in turn gains some quickness and agility. I am very excited to see how this O-line and the team for that matter shapes up.

  • Rubem Dornas

    I don’t think Beachum can play T, only G.

  • Jason White

    He did an admirable job in the games he started there this year. He certainly surprized me and many others.

  • Does Warmack fit our new zone blocking scheme? I like Warmack a lot, but I’d think he’s more of a mauler like Colon and not so athletic and able to move.

  • LucasY59

    I think most everyone agrees Beachum did a good job as a 7th round rookie who was supposed to be a guard, but like Legursky he is more of a depth player with versatility to do a decent job when an injury comes up, not someone you would trust to start 16 games a year

  • dgh57

    Beachum did a nice job and surprised me also but he needs to now show he is consistent with that nice job. Right now after so limited of a playing time I can only consider him as a backup kinda like a Trai Essex was.

  • joed32

    Good point, I like him a lot but don’t know if he fits as a “quick” player.

  • K.S. Ziegler

    I’m not sold at all when it comes to Gilbert especially at LT, and don’t think he can handle zone blocking any better than Starks. If Starks is willing to sign a contract for one or two years that doesn’t break the bank, I think the Steelers should jump on it at this point. There are two many unknowns without him.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Getting rid of Starks because of potential of Adams. Beachum outplayed Adams, so in case anyone ignored watching Adams was a turnstyle on pass plays, well Beachum is an undersized 7th rounder. Beach had not played on the right side in college either, yet was a huge improvement over Adams when he replaced Adams at RT. I know Adams has higher potential. My point is there is no sure thing that Adams will in the future become a satisfsctory pass blocker. I hope he will & he probably will & I bet he will, but we need to hedge that bet for one more year, by have any veteren better passblocker than Adams, on roster next year, in case Adams still sux at passblocking next year.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Right on. Hats off to him from Steeler nation.

  • LucasY59

    from what I’ve seen he has the attitude of Colon (tough/physical) but has much more skill and athleticism. He wouldnt be a highly rated 1st round prospect if he wasnt skilled and athletic. He may not be the quickest G in the draft but he is mobile enough to get into the 2nd level on his blocks (he made Te’o look like a 3rd rounder, and Lacy look like a 1st rounder) I think the Steelers need and want someone like that, the last 3 LGs were all that way, Faneca, Kemeatu, and Colon (Faneca had the skills like Warmack the other two just the attitude)

  • Ahmad

    Don’t the Cardinals need a LT? Watch Arians scoop him up.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Yep Max bailing out the team valuable times, is a perfect description of that history.

  • Mike Carroll

    Yep, I hear exactly what you’re saying. With a new coach, new scheme, and very young personnel the o-line has great potential, but at the same time they really have not proved much yet. I agree that Gilbert is a key as you point out. But, on the whole I am fairly optimistic, mainly because it would be tough for the o-line to be any worse than last year. And I really trust we are watching the team unfold a well thought out plan begun with the decision to part ways with Arians. I love Ben and believe he is a great QB, but his biggest strength has always been his great play on 3rd down. I think the team is better off complementing him with a real running game component (even if it is not necessarily that effective, such as in the 2008 season). Of course, an effective run game sure would help (as it did in the 2005 season) and the new line has that type of promise. Anyone remember Ben’s play back when he had a real play action threat? In any event, I think the team is headed in the right direction.