The Steelers made the decision to put the franchise tag on left tackle Max Starks Thursday, one year after placing the transition tag on Starks.
Many will look at it and wonder why the team felt the need to tag a guy for a second time, particularly one who hasn't gone into either of the past two seasons as a starter.
But the Steelers don't like to see their options limited.
And looking around the offensive tackle prospects available in free agency and the draft, there was no way the Steelers could afford to lose Starks.
With five offensive linemen set to hit the open market – including restricted free agent Willie Colon – the Steelers also couldn't afford to lose the player who was their best offensive linemen by the end of the 2008 season.
At 27, Starks still has his best football ahead of him as well.
The team will try to work out a new deal with Starks to keep him in Pittsburgh long term, but they wanted to protect themselves against another team swooping in and signing him next week.
The team also considered tagging cornerback Bryant McFadden, but the cost of that was nearly $10 million. Plus, while they have three NFL-quality cornerbacks, they had no other options at left tackle.