The Steelers have begun bracing for free agency by making two moves. First, they resigned Travis Kirschke, then the slapped the transition tag on Max Starks.
Signing Kirschke is a safe move. He's is clearly a step down from Aaron Smith and Bret Kiesel, but he’s a body, and he knows the system. They also gave him next to nothing in bonus money, so he can be cut easily.
Moving to keep Max Starks in the fold is a much bigger, much more important move. When the offensive line play got shaky one of the first things that occurred to me is “why in the hell did they bench Starks?” as Willie Colon did not seem to be an upgrade. And Starks really, really played well when Marvel Smith went down.
Assuming we keep him, he helps shore up the offensive line. I’ve heard various combinations, such as moving Colon to guard, putting Starks back in at tackle, and perhaps even moving Stephenson to center. Keeping Stakers does not make up for losing Fanaca, but it’s a start.
Will we keep him? I don’t know. According to the Post Gazette, the transition tag gives the Steelers the right of first refusal. Now a team could structure the deal so as to screw the Steelers, and that may happen. The Steelers also have to offer him an average of the to ten tackles in the league. That's got to come to a pretty big number.
Is Starks really worth that? Possibly not. But he was good enough to start on our Super Bowl team. He bounced back from a difficult demotion, and we desperately need offensive lineman, so this is the right move.