Unless the Pittsburgh Steelers create more space via a restructure or extensions between now and June 2nd, they’ll have to carefully watch their free agent expenditures until $8 million in cap space opens up once the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley hits the books. With Green Bay Packers unrestricted free agent running back James Starks now scheduled for a Monday visit, his price tag should be perfect.
Because of injuries, Starks has played in all of 35 regular season games since being drafted by the Packers in 2010. While he only rushed for 101 yards during his first regular season in the league, the fact that he registered a league-leading 315 rushing yards in the 2010 postseason, seems to be a distant memory.
When you look back over the past several offseasons, only a few running backs have hit the lottery during the free agent signing period and those running backs were of course signed to those deals because they were expected to start.
On Saturday, the Cleveland Browns signed former Houston Texans running back Ben Tate to a two-year contract that can be worth up to $7 million. In addition to Tate, the New York Giants recently signed former Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings to a four-year, $14 million contract that included $3 million guaranteed. Being as that’s the high side, it should give you a pretty good idea as to what Starks will cost.
Running backs are as fungible as ever these days and if offered a deal from the Steelers, even if it is only for the minimum, his agent will likely advise him to take it.
The minimum for Starks in 2014 for his accrued years in the league should only be $730,000. Being as he has four-years accrued, the Steelers might be able to get him to accept a one-year qualifying contract that includes a $65,000 signing bonus. Should that wind up being the case, Starks’ would have a reduced cap charge of $635,000 and that will only eat up another $210,000 in cap space in the process.