The Miami Dolphins have until 4 P.M. Eastern time today (Monday July 15th) to agree on a long-term contract with their franchise player, DT Randy Starks.
Starks, who is tagged at $8.4 mill this season, has been one of Miami’s key defensive pieces over the past four seasons (63 starts in 64 games). The 6’3”, 305 pound defensive tackle tallied 27 total tackles (18 solo), 4.5 sacks and 1 interception last season for the ‘phins.
Although Starks is one of Miami’s key defensive players, CBS Sports‘ Jason La Canfora is reporting that Miami will not be attempting to sign Starks to a long-term deal before the 4 p.m. deadline today.
No, not really. While Starks is one part of Miami’s solid defensive line rotation, the former Maryland Terrapin will be 30 years old this season. Not to mention the team has a solid group of younger players at the position (Odrick, Randall, Martin).
If Miami does not strike a deal with Starks today, the team could potentially lose both it’s starting defensive tackles next season as Paul Soliai‘s contract will conclude also.
Although this may throw the defense off-beat a bit by losing what NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal calls the NFL’s third best defensive tackle tandem, Miami is better suited to roll-the-dice with younger and cheaper options. It also seems as though the team is ready to move on with 2010’s first-round pick Jared Odrick and last year’s seventh-round pick Kheeston Randall, whom played well in a limited role last season, manning the interior of the defense.
Miami could still opt to keep Starks around for the long haul, but don’t be surprised if GM Jeff Ireland passes and lets Starks play out his $8.4 mill contract this season.
Ultimately, draft position (if Miami is in position to land Notre Dame’s Stephen Tuitt DO NOT expect Ireland to re-sign either defensive tackle) and how Randall plays will end up deciding whether or not Ireland decides to re-sign one of his two defensive tackles next season.