Should The Chargers Look At Tackle Max Starks?

With the Chargers projected to be somewhere around $21 million under the salary cap, they are in position to act somewhat aggressively in free agency. We know GM AJ Smith likes to play the wait-and-see game so its not surprising that the Chargers haven't signed anyone even semi-large profile. I think its a good idea to go back and resign your own guys under contract rather than throw money around in the free agent market.

AJ Smith is a smart man and he understands his team's needs better than anyone. He knows the Chargers are dangerously thin at offensive tackle, and he's even gone so far as to admit the draft is particularly deep at that position. It isn't a matter of 'if' Smith acquires a tackle, but more like 'when'

With this in mind, there is a young offensive tackle out on the market who has some potential upside. Max Starks was tagged as a Transition player by the Pittsburgh Steelers:

The Steelers took a big step today toward trying to solidify their offensive line by placing the "transition" tag on unrestricted tackle Max Starks -- a move that means the team will have to pay Starks the average of the top 10 tackles in the National Football League.

With the Steelers already expected to lose Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca in free agency, the move to keep Starks also means the team won't have to be as active in free agency in an attempt to rebuild their offensive line.

Starks, a four-year veteran and two-year starter, lost his starting right tackle spot last season to Willie Colon, a move that all but signaled the end of his Steelers career. But when left tackle Marvel Smith was injured late in the season, Starks played so well at left tackle that he drastically increased his free-agent value and forced the Steelers to reconsider his value to the team.

By placing the transition tag on Starks, the Steelers also have first right of refusal should another team try to sign the 6-foot-8, 345-pound tackle.

Its an interesting situation. If the Chargers hypothetically acquired Starks, that would free them to address other positions of need in the draft. They have precious few draft picks this year, so addressing the need for an Offensive Tackle via free agency gives them more flexibility and a bit more breathing room come April.

But the draft is deep in tackles, right? Yes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are well aware of this fact. They might be more willing to let Starks go if they view the draft as a good way to replace him.

Either way, the Chargers need to make sure their roster is the most Super Bowl ready it can be and should explore all options.

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March 9, 2008

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