Steelers franchise Starks

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Steelers have placed the franchise tag on offensive tackle Max Starks, a move that will keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent and guarantee him $8.451 million in salary -- the average of the NFL's top five offensive linemen -- in the 2009 season.

The Steelers will try to work out a long-term deal with Starks, a No. 3 draft choice in 2004 who started 11 games last season at left tackle.

The franchise tag placed on Starks was non-exclusive, meaning he is allowed to talk with other NFL teams about a contract. However, if he would sign with another team, that team would have to compensate the Steelers with two No. 1 picks.

It is the second year in a row the Steelers have used a tag to keep Starks from becoming an unrestricted free agent. He was named a transition player last season, even though he wasn't a starter, and was paid $6.9 million.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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