Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Max Starks back in black (and gold)

Max Starks announced today via twitter that he re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If you look down his timeline, you'll see that he visited his doctor and got a "good report" before he announced he signed his contract. Obviously, the Steelers waited this one out and did their due diligence to make sure Starks would be able to play by Camp.

Looking forward, this signing means two things.

First, it means that the offensive line is solidified a bit. The long-term goal may still be to have Mike Adams play Left Tackle, and it's possible he will start the season there. If Adams does start the season at LT, Starks will be an excellent backup to have in the bag in case Adams goes down or struggles. If Adams doesn't progress as fast as the Steelers hope, Starks could always start the season at LT and give Adams time to learn the ropes and work his way into the lineup.

Second, as the guys over at Steelers Lounge detailed, this could be the precursor to a Mike Wallace deal. There are three easy steps that the Steelers could take to make the Wallace deal work.

Step 1: Sign Max Starks to the veteran minimum (just under $1 million, but we'll say it's $1 million to make the math easy)

Step 2: Cut Jonathan Scott. He's a turnstile. And we could save $2.2 million off his cap hit by releasing him.

Step 3: Sign Mike Wallace. If Wallace gets a deal similar to Vincent Jackson (5 years, $55 million with a $15 million signing bonus) the signing bonus would be pro-rated over the life of the deal (counting $3 million per year towards the cap). Since players get their signing bonuses up front, they are usually willing to take minimum base salary in the first year since they are actually getting a big paycheck with the bonus. This means Wallace could get a minimum salary of around $700K in 2012 to go with his $15 million bonus. Not a bad payday. Wallace's cap hit for this year would only be $3.7 million ($700K base + $3 million pro-rated bonus).

In a roundabout way, this actually saves the Steelers money with regards to the Salary Cap.

By cutting Jonathan Scott, we save $2.2 million.

$1 million of that is spent on Max Starks' contract.

Currently, Wallace's $2.7 million tender is counting against the Steelers cap. If he gets a contract similar to the one I detailed above, his cap hit for this year would only increase to $3.7 million. Therefore, the Steelers would save an incremental amount of money towards the cap, which would give them room to throw a little more guaranteed money at Mike Wallace.

We may only be at Step 1 of the process, and with about a week until the Steelers hit Latrobe, there's still plenty of time to get a deal done with #17.

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