INDIANAPOLIS -- The Steelers have reached agreement with left tackle Max Starks to accept their franchise tender of $8,451,000 for the 2009 season, paving the way for the two sides to begin discussion on a long-term contract.
The Steelers have until mid-July to reach agreement on a contract with the 6-foot-8, 340-pound Starks or he will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said it is the intention of the Steelers and Starks agent, Eugene Parker, to sign a long-term contract.
By accepting the franchise tender, Starks can no longer negotiate with other NFL teams about a possible contract. It was unlikely that was going to occur because a team would have to compensate the Steelers with two No. 1 picks if it signed Starks.
Starks becomes the third of the 14 NFL players who received the franchise designation to accept the tender, joining New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel and Atlanta Falcons punter Michael Koenin.
Gerry Dulac can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .