Marshawn Lynch and Dez Bryant should thank Max Starks and the Pittsburgh Steelers for creating a piece of football news that directs the discussion, even if for only a moment, away from their arrests. The long, strange trip that the Steelers and Max Starks have taken together will have another chapter added in 2012.
Starks himself broke the news on Twitter:
It's real and sealed! I'll be seeing you in Latrobe! instagr.am/p/NMQ9-hufnW/
— Max Starks IV (@maxstarks78) July 17, 2012
Starks had been seen around the team's facility this offseason, so the signing comes as no shock. As Steelers Depot's Dave Bryan pointed out, the addition of Starks is bad news for backup tackle Jonathan Scott, who would count 2.7 million dollars against the cap if he makes the team.
But is it bad news for second-round pick Mike Adams, who most had tabbed as the team's starting left tackle this year?
Bryan and ESPN's Adam Schefter characterized the signing as "depth". Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Mike Prisuta of WDVE say that Starks will compete with Adams to start, although Prisuta adds that Starks can help teach Adams the left tackle position in the Steelers offense.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. Adams missed time because of Ohio State's late finish to the school year. Any first-team snaps Starks would take away from him can be offset by the veteran taking the rookie under his his wing. Starks is well-known as one of the league's "nice guys," so that should be a given.
Bouchette states that the addition of Starks makes it easier to allow Marcus Gilbert to focus on right tackle if Adams does fail to win the job in camp. Bryan also added that Starks can back up both tackle positions. This becomes important if Gilbert gets hurt and the team wants to keep Willie Colon inside at guard.
The Steelers have to be hoping that Adams makes their decision easy by looking like a motivated natural in training camp and the preseason. Starks is really more of an insurance policy against Adams bombing early than a true competitor for Adams. In the end, his addition could end up being a reason that Adams wins the job instead of a reason that he rides the bench for the season opener vs. the Denver Broncos.