Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting that as expected, the Steelers have applied the franchise tag to offensive tackle Max Starks. Starks, 27 and a former fulltime starter at right tackle, is entering what will be his 6th pro season. He played last year starting 11 games for the injured Marvel Smith at left tackle.
Last season the team used the transition tag on Starks. This year under the franchise tag he will make over 8.4 million dollars. Using the tag on Starks pretty much assures that the Steelers will let Marvel Smith leave in free agency. The team has until July 15th to sign Starks to a long term deal or decide to let him play out the season under the tag.
UPDATE: John Clayton, of espn.com, reports that on the 21st Starks signed the Steelers franchise tender and made sure the team's offer of 8.45 million for 1 season is guaranteed. The club has until July 15th to sign Starks to a long term contract, if they so desire. Starks played left tackle in college and 11 games last season in place of Marvel Smith.