PITTSBURGH (AP) -Offensive tackle Max Starks was designated as the Pittsburgh Steelers' franchise player on Thursday, the second successive year they have retained the two-time Super Bowl starter by placing a tag on him.
Starks made $6.9 million last year as a transition player, although he didn't begin the season as a starter. He ended up starting 11 games at left tackle after Marvel Smith was injured.
``We were happy we had Max Starks available to us when he was needed,'' Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said. ``We were fortunate that he was still here because he gave us an experienced guy who had played as a starter in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl.''
Starks was the Steelers' right tackle when they won the Super Bowl during the 2005 season.
Pittsburgh to pay a player who didn't make their lineup at the start of last season.
Starks must make $8.451 million in 2009, the average of the NFL's top five offensive linemen last season.
Another team could sign Starks because he is designated as non-exclusive, but that team would owe the Steelers a pair of first-round draft picks.

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