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Author Topic: Starks Franchised  (Read 2223 times)
PghSteel-43
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« on: Feb 19, 2009 at 14:49 »

Steelers franchise Starks
Thursday, February 19, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Steelers have placed the franchise tag on offensive tackle Max Starks, a move that will keep him from entering free agency and guarantee him $8.451 million in salary -- the average of the NFL's top five offensive linemen -- in the 2009 season.

The Steelers will try to work out a long-term deal with Starks, a No. 3 draft choice in 2004 who started 11 games last season at left tackle.

It is the second year in a row the Steelers have used a tag to keep Starks from becoming an unrestricted free agent. He was named a transition player last season, even though he wasn't a starter, and was paid $6.9 million.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09050/950325-66.stm
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 14:58 »

Starks has to be loving this.  Almost $7M last season and $8.5 this one!?  Hell, from his perspective why ever sign a long term contract?  Time to go foreclosure shopping!
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 15:12 »

I know this will be met with near-unanimous derision, but I was on the shitter today and came to the conclusion that it was inevitable.  First, there is a dearth of LT FAs: who would we sign to come in and do what Max did as cheaply?  Second, letting Max walk would leave us with options like Essex and Smith and Hills, which, do I really need to say anything here?  Third, Max is a decent but unspectacular OT, certainly not the blind-side protector of the franchise I'd want long-term.  Fourth, our biggest immediate need is along the IOL (OG, C), which coupled with the fact that the plug-in ready OTs will be off the board by 1.32 or an easy-trade up, indicates we will draft a tackle who needs a year.

Could be Britton or Beatty, but more and more I think we're looking at Fenuki Tupou, and might need to move up in R2 to get him.  Possibly a guy like Kropog if we think he can beef up in a year and hold the POA better, but right now he looks more pure ZBS and a bit flyweight.  Jason Watkins is a guy in R2-3 for us (most mocks have him R3-4), and he played some LT at Florida, reminds me a bit of Max.  He could be a nice pickup in addition to Fenuki, but I would hope not as the LT of the future.  Unless they still think Hills can be.

Another possibility is they are working out a long-term deal, which in some ways would be the best idea of all.  We could have more draft flexibility with developmental LTs, and concentrate on IOL and DL early.
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 15:18 »

This is a good move in my opinion. I don't think Starks was a glaring issue. The guy playing next to him was the hole in the line. Starks has more than held his own starting for 2 super bowl teams on both the left and right side of the line. He ended up in Tomlin's doghouse for 2007, but played well in 2008 when they needed it.

He does get beat off the edge on occasion, but look at who he has to block most of the year. A more competent LG (Mack, Unger, Robinson) will make him even better.

This also gives the Steeler the flexibility to draft any position along the o-line in the draft rather than being pinned down by losing all four OT's.
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 15:44 »

I don't think they're losing four tackles, even if Max had left.  Smith is done.  Essex may stick here -- can't imagine a ton of demand, and we've started negotiations; if he thinks he's in line for a starting gig somewhere, dream on, Tubby.  Colon is RFA, so he sticks rather painlessly.
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 16:01 »

It was inevitable but I hate using half our available cap space on Starks. No way he signs long-term either, he's taking the 8.5 next year and hitting the open market after.

I think they resign Essex also, and I like him as a backup. I don't remember any games where he was called upon where he completely shit the bed, and he might be a better RT than stupid Colon.

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« Reply #6 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 16:02 »

So, will this be another insurance policy where he rides the pine until injury forces him into the lineup?  And if not, back to LT?
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 16:04 »

So, will this be another insurance policy where he rides the pine until injury forces him into the lineup?  And if not, back to LT?


I think he earned his stripes this year, whether the coaching staff likes it or not. Not like they have any other options.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 16:28 »

I'd love to see them move Starks back to RT...

Huh? ... Colon/Stapleton, Hartwig, Simmons, Starks.

That leaves one immidiate hole to fill, and at least a stop gap measure for Guard for 2009.  Then what to do at LT... draft? FA? Essex/Hills?
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 17:38 »

Boo.

I understand why they did it but still, boo.

Hopefully they can work out something long term since they've tagged him.
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 18:16 »

There was simply no alternative. He was the least horrible OT on the team...and as others have pointed out there won't be a better value in FA for a LT, and picking too low in the first to guarantee a ready-to-start OT.
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 19:52 »

While it's not the best situation in the world, I have to agree it's a viable solution.He's OK, not great by any means.  Maybe by playing LT for a whole offseason he'll improve. 

Our Oline doesn't have to be all Pro Bowlers, which is good because it won't.  Even if we can get to a Harry-esqe average to slightly above average, we'll be better off there than we were in '08.  And '08 was good enough for a ring.
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 20:33 »

I thought more people were onboard with my idea of scrapping most of the offensive line spots and going with tight ends. 

I'm very disappointed. 
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 02:01 »

This was a must do move as said by others. Have to keep some of the line and draft for the future. Now we'll see if Duke Robinson will make it into the 20's and trade our third and first to move up, pick him and have a left side of the line at 6'8" 345 OT and 6'5" 335 LG and then Hartwig 6'2" 314. My only problem is that Starks doesn't have a mean/nasty streak. If Kemo could reign his stupidity in I'd be happy, I love the nasty in him but without smarts he just becomes a liability. If Robinson is gone I don't see Jamon Meredith being a huge reach, 32nd is basically a second round pick. Also would not mind moving up to get Tyson Jackson DE out of LSU. He looks to be one of the best 3-4 DE's in the draft. Fenuki Tupou would be great in the second or Fili Moala
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 07:36 »

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Boo.

I understand why they did it but still, boo.

Hopefully they can work out something long term since they've tagged him.

Okay, when I first saw all this on ESPN News yesterday, I absolutely lost my mind.  Couldn't believe we did this.  Then I hopped on the board, gave it some thought, and agree that we probably had to do it.

But still...BOO!

There are too many questions left unanswered with this move:

1. Why was Starks not good enough to start last year if he's good enough to franchise this year? 

2. Did we see a sudden change in approach or attitude from Starks when he started playing?  Do we expect him to continue?  Just sayin', if he was fat and lazy with the transition tag, then he may be fat and lazy with the franchise.

3. If he's that valuable (which he may be) why couldn't we work out a long-term, cap-friendly deal?  People weren't beating down his door last year.  If we needed to keep him, LAST year was the time to do the deal.  If he plays great, he'll walk for big bucks.  If he plays average (which I believe he did most of the season), we resing him, but why would we want to?
     I guess that maybe we believe he's only an average tackle, and can be resinged to a reasonable deal after last season; the franchise tag buys us some time to find/develop other talent.

I know that we'll never really know the answers here, but it is frustrating the way that the organization has allowed this to play out.  I don't know why I'm complaining, though--I mean, we ONLY won the Super Bowl!


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He was the least horrible OT on the team

High praise, Lambert!  Grin  I think you're right, and I guess I would echo others in hoping that he may look better with better talent around him.  Or, he'll be exposed as average and we'll be able to keep him for depth.


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Now we'll see if Duke Robinson will make it into the 20's and trade our third and first to move up

I don't know that I want Duke Robinson, and I'm certainly not sure about giving up picks to get him.  He looked very mediocre against NFL-caliber talent vs. Florida; in fact, I'd even say that he looked bad at times.  That's a huge risk on a R1 olineman.  Now, I'm not sure that we're going to do any better, but we have to be very careful.  I honestly don't think we can afford to miss again on the oline if we hope to see this team improve next season.


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« Reply #15 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 08:28 »

Agree with Preach on Duke Robinson, and no way would I trade up for him or Tyson Jackson.  Maybe at 1.32, maybe.  But he's limited also.

I think there are some very good guards we can look at R2-3.  R1, IMO, is either a top C or OT.  If we did go DE, I think Jarron Gilbert is moving on up for me -- would need some coaching, but much more upside than Jackson.  Think guys last year like Jason Jones or Kendall Langford, but more so.
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 08:51 »

Funny thing is, Starks isn't even the most questionable guy to get franchised. Shane Graham, Bo Scaife, and Dunta Robinson all got franchised. Antonio Bryant too, who wasn't even on a roster prior to last season.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 09:56 »

I agree with the consensus in that (a) I'm not wild about this and (b) I understood why it occurred.  I think that it frees them up, in the short term and possibly the long-term, to solidify other needs.  The big sticking point on any long-term Starks negotiations will probably be signing bonus (he sometimes seems to become unmotivated and is beaten out by lesser talents).  I also wonder if this was timed to the Jordan Gross negotiations (i.e. as soon as the Steelers saw Gross re-signed with Carolina they opted to franchise Max).  I think they will draft a second Tony Hills in the 3rd or 4th round this year and let 2008 Hills and the ultimate 2009 Tony Hills fight to the death to be the long-term solution to the other tackle position.

Its possible that Max was not only the best tackle on the roster last year, but the best OL period.  I can't think of anyone who outperformed him - and given that (as others have stated) he has now started for two SB winning teams its possible that we focus too much on Max's flaws.  He doesn't get beaten terribly often, he doesn't commit penalties very often .... maybe he is better than we commonly appreciate...
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« Reply #18 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 10:17 »

I agree with the general thinking here, and the team may clearly be thinking that they can draft a better interior lineman at 1.32 than they can a tackle.

I wouldn't be surprised if they went for a blocking TE in round 3 or 4 either -- I think the Super Bowl made clear that not only are Kemoteau and Stapleton weaknesses, but that Spaeth cannot block. He was run over, when he wasn't being run around, in every 'big' set we tried to throw out there.

The O-line may not take a ton of work to improve in 2009 (caveat being they were dreadful in 2008 and improvement means getting up an NFL average standard) if the following happens:
* We draft a high-quality, future Pro Bowl G in the first round who can start immediately at LG (should be very doable)
* Get Simmons back healthy for RG (I know he's not great, but he's better than Stapleton)
* Motivate Starks, and get him to improve as our starting LT
* and acquire a very good blocking TE or FB either in the draft or free agency (this shouldn't be hard to do if we just want to do it)

In terms of 2010 and beyond, I think the second day of the draft should again involve taking some potshots at the OT position until we're in a position to draft a very good one in the first round or land a quality free agent.
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« Reply #19 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 15:01 »

Maybe some crazy arse team will sign Max away.  I'd rather have the compensation of two first rounders.
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« Reply #20 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 15:55 »

*looks for a remote*

If he doesn't sing a long term deal or the offer sheet prior to the FA period, maybe they can still snag someone like Barnes and then just rescind the Starks tag.

*crosses fingers*

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« Reply #21 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 16:26 »

I think they will draft a second Tony Hills in the 3rd or 4th round this year and let 2008 Hills and the ultimate 2009 Tony Hills fight to the death to be the long-term solution to the other tackle position.

You mean the one on the practice squad? Just kidding...but seriously, I'm not confident in finding a true starter in the 3rd or 4th.

Its possible that Max was not only the best tackle on the roster last year, but the best OL period.  I can't think of anyone who outperformed him - and given that (as others have stated) he has now started for two SB winning teams its possible that we focus too much on Max's flaws.  He doesn't get beaten terribly often, he doesn't commit penalties very often .... maybe he is better than we commonly appreciate...

I kind of agree, here. I imagine that Max is lazy in practice, and not motivated to get better in training camp. That probably pissed the coaching staff off last year (and why they puzzled us all by installing -- for forever it seems -- Colon as the RT).
It does seem, though, that he is a perfectly mediocre LT when he gets to play. He doesn't get exposed as frequently as all of the others on the OL, and he only sucks about 1/4 of the snaps that he plays (as opposed to my estimate of 1/3 of all passing snaps and 1/2 of all running snaps for the rest).
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« Reply #22 on: Feb 20, 2009 at 16:34 »

I think they will draft a second Tony Hills in the 3rd or 4th round this year and let 2008 Hills and the ultimate 2009 Tony Hills fight to the death to be the long-term solution to the other tackle position.

So it would be a peg-leg pirate fight?
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« Reply #23 on: Feb 21, 2009 at 11:59 »

My best case scenario is put Stapleton where he belongs, at center, and move either Colon or Simmons to LG and then only have to find a serviceable RT. As I don't think Max is worth $8 mil but what exactly are the alternatives. I cannot recall when he commited a penalty throughout the season and I think people forget that he has to block some of the be DE's in the league. IMO, Kemo sucks, Hartwig sucks and the coaching staff is making a big mistake at RT. If a crappy O-line can win a Super Bowl, and come up huge when it matters, in the final 2 minutes, imagine what a relatively decent O-line could provide. 

Starks, Simmons-Colon, Stapleton, Simmons-Colon, Huh??.

That is my solution.
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« Reply #24 on: Feb 21, 2009 at 12:53 »

My best case scenario is put Stapleton where he belongs, at center, and move either Colon or Simmons to LG and then only have to find a serviceable RT. As I don't think Max is worth $8 mil but what exactly are the alternatives. I cannot recall when he commited a penalty throughout the season and I think people forget that he has to block some of the be DE's in the league. IMO, Kemo sucks, Hartwig sucks and the coaching staff is making a big mistake at RT. If a crappy O-line can win a Super Bowl, and come up huge when it matters, in the final 2 minutes, imagine what a relatively decent O-line could provide. 

Starks, Simmons-Colon, Stapleton, Simmons-Colon, Huh??.

That is my solution.

I thought Hartwig played pretty well considering he faced some of the best NT's in the league this season, including Ngata (sp) twice. Of course maybe he just looked better because of the show the human rag doll Mahan put on the year before. Considering how cheap his contract was, I think we got great value out of him.

I've seen some sites rate Kemo as a solid starter, and some rate him as a piece of shit. I think he just is what he is, a pretty good point of attack run blocker who blows goats when trying to pull and in pass protection. Colon may make a good guard, but the coaching staff seems unwilling to even consider moving him there. Saying he sucks at RT is the understatement of the year. Kendall Simmons and his average play and giant contract can fall off the end of the earth for all I care. If they can find a way to cut him and save on the rest of his albatross salary I think they will.

If they just trim the extreme suckage, and replace Kemo and Colon with competant guys for their position, this line can be leaps and bounds above where it is now next year. Well, it's not happening through free agency so if there was ever a year to pass on their BPA strategy and take the best lineman available at 1.32, this is the year. There's flexibility, given that Stapleton, Hartwig, and Starks can play multiple positions, so just get the best OG or OT available and go from there. Go center later on for Hartwig's/Stapleton's future replacement.





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« Reply #25 on: Feb 21, 2009 at 14:32 »

Steelers reach agreement with Starks
Saturday, February 21, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS The Steelers have reached agreement with left tackle Max Starks to accept their franchise tender of $8.451 million for the 2009 season, paving the way for the two sides to begin discussion on a long-term contract.

The Steelers have until mid-July to reach agreement on a contract with their 6-foot-8, 340-pound tackle or he will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

By accepting the franchise tender, Starks can no longer negotiate with other NFL teams about a possible contract. It was unlikely that was going to occur, however, because a team would have to compensate the Steelers with two No. 1 picks if they signed Starks.

http://www.post-gazette.com/
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« Reply #26 on: Feb 21, 2009 at 14:51 »

I don't get it... why not work out the long term deal b4 signing the franchise tender so the signing bonus can be prorated over the years?  That would drive the 09' cap hit down and allow a better chance of McFadden to be signed.

If Starks talked to other teams and we got 2 first rounders, then GREAT!..

Just don't understand....unless the tender can be voided with a new contract. 

Also, same with Harrison, whats this talk about having till the beginning of the training camp to do a deal???  The Steelers policy is not to negotiate after the first game of the season.  Some other rule I'm not aware of?
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« Reply #27 on: Feb 21, 2009 at 19:55 »

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I don't get it... why not work out the long term deal b4 signing the franchise tender so the signing bonus can be prorated over the years?  That would drive the 09' cap hit down and allow a better chance of McFadden to be signed.

Just don't understand....unless the tender can be voided with a new contract.

I believe that is exactly the case.  They can take their time now to work on the deal without competing with the open market.  If they sign a long term deal the franchise deal is voided.   Max can either agree to a deal or play out his year and be a FA in '10.
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« Reply #28 on: Feb 22, 2009 at 22:20 »

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I don't get it... why not work out the long term deal b4 signing the franchise tender so the signing bonus can be prorated over the years?  That would drive the 09' cap hit down and allow a better chance of McFadden to be signed.

Just don't understand....unless the tender can be voided with a new contract.

I believe that is exactly the case.  They can take their time now to work on the deal without competing with the open market.  If they sign a long term deal the franchise deal is voided.   Max can either agree to a deal or play out his year and be a FA in '10.

I hope the steelers and Starks come to a multi year agreement this time around.  Reason being I would rather not see a repeat situation next year with a question mark at both tackle spots again.  However, franchising Starks gives the FO the opportunity to draft best available either IOL or DL this year. 
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« Reply #29 on: Feb 23, 2009 at 06:24 »

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However, franchising Starks gives the FO the opportunity to draft best available either IOL or DL this year. 

That's most likely the key.  We know that we're not going to get a top-notch LT in the draft because, most likely, they'll all be gone.  Maybe we get a RT or a tackle with potential (Joel Bell, anyone?) in the later rounds.  I'm starting to think they don't want Starks long-term, but he's the BAA for them right now, so they'll pay him until they can find a better long-term solution.  Even if the guy is a world-beater this year, they won't be able to keep him cause he'll get paid somewhere else.

As for Colon, I actually thought he played well in the SB, and I think he gives a great effort.  Problem is that he's been out of position for two years now.  I'd like to at least SEE if he could be a fit at guard, although the FO/coaches seems opposed to making any move in that direction.

And let me just give my now-annual assessment of Simmons:  I feel bad for him, because the diabetes/injuries seem to have derailed a once-promising career.  But the guy is not good.  He just ain't got it.  He is not better than Stapleton (who is average at BEST), and may be worse.  Sorry if I'm being rude, but any discussion of returning Simmons to a starting guard spot should draw a one-day ban from this board. 

And no, I don't give a crap if he's in the "best shape of his career." 
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