The Steelers moved to strengthen an offensive line heavy on youth and pedigree by re-signing veteran tackle Max Starks to another one-year contract today.
The signing of their starting left tackle since 2008 gives the Steelers the luxury of keeping second-year pro Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, where he started as a rookie. Starks and rookie Mike Adams, their second-round draft choice, will contend for the starting job at left tackle in training camp.
Before they drafted Adams, the Steelers planned to move Gilbert to left tackle. Gilbert practiced on both sides during the spring.
Starks, an unrestricted free agent this year, underwent ACL surgery in January but proclaimed on Twitter this afternoon that "It's a great day, doc gave me a great report! On my way to being game ready."
Starks' experience with the Steelers since they drafted him on the third round from Florida in 2004 has been a mix of success and oddity. He became their starting right tackle in 2005, when they won a Super Bowl, and stayed there until Willie Colon beat him out in 2007.
Nevertheless, the Steelers made him their transition player in 2008 and paid him a one-year deal of nearly $7 million. He opened that season again as a backup but started 11 games at left tackle for an injured Marvel Smith.
In 2009, the Steelers named him their franchise player and paid him nearly $8.5 million for one season and he started every game at left tackle. Before training camp in 2010, they signed him to a four-year, $26.3 million contract. However, his season ended after seven games because of a neck injury and before the 2011 camp began, they released him for salary cap purposes.
They opened last season with Jonathan Scott as their left tackle but after four games, they signed Starks to a one-year contract and he started the rest of the way at left tackle, injuring his knee in the second quarter of their playoff loss to Denver. He became an unrestricted free agent in March and general manager Kevin Colbert said then that they would wait until the summer to determine whether to re-sign him.
No financial terms of Starks' one-year deal were available.