Steelers sign Starks to four-year deal

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The Steelers signed six-year veteran offensive tackle Max Starks to a new four-year contract today that will keep him with the team through 2012, the team announced today. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Starks, who is slated to play left tackle for the Steelers in 2009, was originally drafted by the team in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Florida. He began his career as a right tackle, making 30 consecutive regular season starts at the position from 2005-06, before missing the final two games in 2006 with a knee injury. Starks started 15 regular season games at left tackle from 2007-08, in place of injured starter Marvel Smith. He started at left tackle in all three 2008 postseason games, including Super Bowl XLIII.

Starks had been designated the Steelers transition player prior to the 2008 season and the team's franchise player in 2009. By signing his new contract, Starks no longer carries the team's franchise designation.

Starks has played in 72 games and made 45 starts during his NFL career. He currently ranks as the longest-tenured offensive lineman with the Steelers.

Also, the team annonced today the retirement of cornerback Fernando Bryant, after a 10-year career that culminated with a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.

Bryant, 32, signed with the Steelers on Nov. 11, 2008, and saw action in two regular season games after being released by the New England Patriots at the end of training camp.

Bryant was originally drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, after earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior at Alabama.


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