OK, ignore the report below. It seems I missed the “NOT” or it was updated after the original story posted.
Use this post now to discuss the depth at the tackle position as I will not correct what I wrote below!
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has an interesting little nugget in his Tuesday report from the annual owners\’ meetings that are still going on out in Arizona. Dulac wrote that the Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to re-sign tackle Max Starks and nose tackle Casey Hampton, both of whom are unrestricted free agents this off-season.
Both Starks and Hampton said at the end of last season that they each intend to play in 2013, but so far neither have received attention in the free agent signing period, which by the way is only one week old as of today. Will they get attention over the course of the next few weeks? It\’s hard to say, but considering the age of both, it wouldn\’t be surprising if they didn\’t.
Starks did say that he would like to return to Pittsburgh in 2013, but not as a backup. He thinks that he proved last year that he can still be a starting left tackle in the league moving forward and he did manage to play every snap on offense last season in addition.
The Steelers currently have two young tackles on their roster that were second round selections in the form of Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert, and you would have to think that the plan calls for both of them to start in 2013. There has been speculation that Gilbert will play on the left side and Adams on the right, but I think that is far from guaranteed at this point. It would surprise me if it winds up being the other way around.
Regardless of who plays on what side, the Steelers still have depth questions at the tackle position. Kelvin Beachum played on the right side last season due to injuries suffered by both Gilbert and Adams, but his play was uneven there and the long-range plan might be for him to kick inside as an interior swingman that can play right tackle in case of emergency.
Ramon Foster has already been re-signed this off-season, and although he too can play right tackle in a pinch, he is currently being pegged as the starting left guard in 2013.
Re-signing Starks would provide experienced depth at the tackle position as the veteran can play both sides. Is he willing to return on another one year deal for the minimum to be a backup though?
The return of Hampton for one more season would be a sign that Alameda Ta\’amu, the Steelers fourth-round pick last April, is nowhere close to being ready to backup Steve McLendon, who is expected to be the starter in 2013. Hampton\’s best days are far behind him now, but at least the Steelers would have experienced and capable depth at the position while Ta\’amu gets another year of seasoning. Perhaps Ta\’amu won\’t even make the team this season. Pardon the pun, but the jury is still out on him.
I am not sure if Dulac is just speculating that both will return or not. Perhaps he has a source that is telling him that both are indeed on their way back at some point. If their re-signings do ultimately take place, however, you would think that it wouldn\’t happen until after the draft next month. We will just have to wait and see what happens.