Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
The Pittsburgh Steelers are unlikely to bring back longtime players Casey Hampton and Max Starks as they try to squeeze under the salary cap in 2013, but both are willing to play elsewhere.
Nose tackle Casey Hampton and left tackle Max Starks have each played their entire NFL careers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but both acknowledge that this week's game could be their last in black and gold, as the team appears unlikely to bring them back.
Both players have contracts expiring at the end of this season, and both have already made sacrifices to remain with Pittsburgh. But both have proven their worth, and with the Steelers likely reluctant to sign either, both would play somewhere else, reports Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review.
Hampton, a 35-year-old and five-time Pro Bowler who has been with Pittsburgh for 12 seasons, took a $2 million pay cut before this season to stay with the Steelers, and responded by having a productive season up front. He said he plans on testing the market if the team doesn't want him:
"I want to play, and I feel like if I want to play and somebody wants me to play for them, I am going to play," Hampton said. "I can‘t say that I can‘t see myself playing with somebody else, but I definitely wouldn‘t want to go anywhere else. There is no question about that."
Starks, now in his eighth year with the Steelers, sees the writing on the wall after the team drafted Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams to play tackle, although injuries to both ensured neither would test Starks for his starting left tackle spot. He said he plans on starting somewhere else if Pittsburgh asks him to back up the youngsters:
"I am not a backup yet," Starks said. "I still have a couple more years in me before I can even consider that role. They drafted two young guys in the second round the last two years, so do I think I will be here? Probably not, but at the same time, I feel that I have value somewhere."
As it stands, Pittsburgh is over the salary cap for 2013, and will have to cut or trade players to make the numbers work.