Steelers tag Starks

The Pittsburgh Steelers named their starting left tackle for 2009 yesterday when they put the francise tag on Max Starks.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Max Starks has to like playing Tag.

For the second consecutive season, the Steelers placed a tag on the big offensive tackle, but this year Starks was given the franchise tag, meaning another team will have to give the Steelers two first-round picks if they sign him to a contract that the Steelers don't match.

Starks will make at least $8.451 million this year – calculated by the average of the top five highest paid tackles in the league – unless the Steelers and Starks agree to a long-term contract. That should prove to be an easier agreement for both sides, since Starks is now clearly the team's starter at left tackle.

The move leaves the team with three pending free agents on their offensive line, although Willie Colon can easily be retained as a restricted free agent and injury-prone Marvel Smith will likely need to find work elsewhere. The Steelers have already begun talks with free-agent guard Chris Kemoeatu.

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