With James Harrison locked up, the Steelers focus has now turned to Left tackle Max Starks. The two sides have been in negotiations since March but talks have yet to reach the serious stages.
Starks is due 8.451 million for the 2009 season, the average of the top five highest-paid tackles in the NFL.
The Steelers want to get that cap hit in the $5.5 million range but the difficult task is giving Starks enough guaranteed money to satisfy him as he is due a guaranteed salary of $8.451 million this season.
Talks will pick up later this week according to sources with the Steelers and the Steelers would love to get a deal done by the middle of May.
Negotiations with tight end Heath Miller will begin
following the draft. Miller is next in line to sign an extension and one will be finalized before training camp. There is a mutual interest to get a deal done and the uncap year does not entice Miller.
After Miller and possibly Starks, the Steelers may be done giving out contract extensions this off-season.
What about Parker, Ward and Hampton?
The Steelers have no plans to open up contract talks with running back Willie Parker, one of their core players set to become a free agent after the season.
Rashard Mendenhall is being groomed as the eventual #1 back and Parker may still have his sights on being an every down back. Not going to happen in 2010 with Mendenhall.
Casey Hampton is another player who could be entering his final season with the Steelers. Hampton is on the wrong side of 30 and won‚Äôt receive a long-term, big money deal from the Steelers.
Hines Ward has no intentions of playing elsewhere following the 2009 season. He is interested in playing two-three more years but contract talks will be tricky as Ward will be 34 by the start of the season.
Photo courtesy of SteelcityHobbies