Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that Miami Dolphins‘ Defensive Tackle , Randy Starks, will be officially holding out for a long-term contract.
For those that do not know what this means, Starks will be skipping all voluntary and mandatory work-outs the team holds until Starks’ agent and Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland can come to terms on a long-term deal.
Starks, who has been one of the key components in Miami’s front seven since joining the team during the 2007 off-season as a free agent, was franchise tagged during the 2013 off-season.
It was originally thought that GM Jeff Ireland would be working towards a long-term deal before free agency opened instead of taking Starks’ $8.45 million cap hit. Obviously this was not the case.
Defensive Tackle Paul Soliai, Starks’ partner in crime in the middle of Miami’s 4-3 front, will also be entering the final year of his contract in which he signed a two-year, $12 million contract during the 2012 off-season.
Who is the better fit for Miami in the long run, Starks or Soliai?
Both are incredible players against the run. Starks and Soliai both have been the anchors for Miami’s stout run defense over the past three seasons. Starks has collected 176 total tackles over a five-year period. Soliai, on the other hand, has collected 126 total tackles over a six-year period. Although Starks wins the statistical break down, Soliai is an unsung hero for Miami’s run defense. The big fella is known as a “space-eater” in which he takes on more than one blocker on a consistent basis. This frees up Miami’s linebackers and safeties to make a play on the ball carrier. It’s a draw here.
PASS DEFENSE (RUSH):
Starks is undoubtedly the better fit for Miami here. Sure, Soliai, the 6’4” 345 lbs. mammoth of the middle, has little to no effect on passing downs other than being a “space-eater” allowing others to create pressure on the quarterback. Starks (6’3” 305 lbs.), on the other hand, is incredibly athletic for his position. In his five seasons with the squad, Starks has collected 22 quarterback sacks (also has collected 4 interceptions!!) compared to Soliai’s total of 3.5 over a six-year period.
It’s sad, but in the end the National Football League is a business and teams must do what is in their best interest to win. Soliai should have a decent market next off-season, but do not expect Miami to bring the stout run defender back unless he takes a substantial pay-cut.
(SMOKESCREEN: Could Miami dangle Soliai in front of a 3-4 team looking for an incredible nose tackle as trade bait during the upcoming NFL Draft? Maybe..)
Pairing Starks with a young and hungry defensive tackle Jared Odrick would give Miami an outstanding defensive tackle duo, especially on passing downs. Odrick has one more season to fine tune his skills to become one of the league’s better defensive tackles.
Look for Miami to strike a deal with Starks sooner rather than later, fellas. PAY THE MAN!