Today is part 2 of the Free Agency grades for the Steelers. We’ll take this in three sections – Released Players, Restructure and Got Away. Each move will get a grade and then an overall grade. Two things have changed since yesterday’s grades – the Steelers signed TE John Gilmore from Tampa Bay and re-signed long snapper Greg Warren. Let’s get to the grades.
Max Starks – The Steelers moved fast once the lockout was lifted, and Max Starks became one of the first casualties of the $123 million cap. The moved happened so quickly that I think the Steelers had this one nailed in stone sometime during the lockout. Starks’ release will go down as the tough but necessary decisions. His football ready state was probably in question as he just came off of neck surgery and was weighing in the upper 300 lbs. Starks was set to make $6.5 million this season – a big enough price that would help make room for Ike Taylor and others. It’s obvious that the players miss Stark – Big Ben continues to wear #78 in tribute of Max. This move could be graded either way based on how the rest of the O-line shapes up. For now, it’s a smart move though a tough pill to swallow.
Antwan Randle El (ARE) – Prior to today, the return of Wallace, Ward, Sanders and Brown made the return of ARE questionable. Knowing that the Steelers needed lots of help in finding cap room, it was all but written in the stars that ARE would be gone before camp really go under way. He wasn’t very productive last year with only 22 catches for under 300 yards – poor for even second slot receiver numbers. Even though Sanders was injured today and out for the next three weeks – these four have a potent punch that will be a good group for Big Ben to throw to (as long as they stay healthy). I have no qualms against ARE, but this move was necessary for cap room and roster space.
Flozell Adams – A few days after the release of Starks, Flozell Adams got the boot. Now there is a void in the Steelers line. At the time I thought, ‘What the hell did the o-line do to piss off Colbert?’ But Flozell made even more sense than Starks. Dude is 36 years old and is expected to keep up with speedy linebackers looking to light up Big Ben. Flozell wanted to start and didn’t want to be a backup… well… there’s the door then. Everything made even more sense when they signed Willie Colon and Jonathan Scott. Again, the Starks and Adams moves will come to fruition once the season is a week or two in. Until then, they aren’t shabby moves.
Overall Release Grade: A-
After the jump. Teammates restructure contracts and the ones that got away.