Starks is set to become a free agent next Tuesday, so the Dolphins have been working hard to sign him to a long term deal. Those conversations are ongoing, but there is a bit of a time crunch to this negotiation. The Dolphins have until 4pm to announce if they will use their franchise tag on a player. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, the Dolphins are very likely to use the franchise tag on Starks. If the Dolphins and Starks cannot agree on a long term deal before 4pm, the Dolphins will tag him with an $8.5 million salary for 2013. Now, the Dolphins could still try to negotiate with him after that point, in an effort to sign him to a longer deal, but he would be guaranteed at least that $8.5 million.
If Starks is tagged, the Dolphins $47 million in cap room will be reduced to $38.5 million. That still leaves the team will plenty of room to ‘shop’ when the free agency period starts next Tuesday (March 12th). The Dolphins and other teams can begin speaking with free agents this Saturday (March 9th), but can’t officially sign deals until the 12th.
Placing the franchise tag on Starks will mean a few things. First, the Dolphins will not be looking for any defensive tackle help this offseason. They will have a solid rotation with Starks, Soliai, and Odrick. I know Odrick played defensive end last year in the 4-3, but I expect the Dolphins to bring in a pass rusher (or 2), which will allow Odrick to play his more natural position, defensive tackle. Second, tagging Starks means that Sean Smith and Jake Long will likely BOTH be gone. Long and Smith are simply valuing themselves too highly for the Dolphins. That means the Dolphins will be looking for a starting caliber offensive tackle and will need 2 starting caliber cornerbacks. Thankfully, the free agent market and draft are both full of quality at both positions.
Hold onto your seats, the next few weeks are going to be wild and crazy. We’ll have all Dolphins related news, as soon as it happens, so be sure to check back with PhinNation.com early and often each day. You can bookmark or favorite our site in your web browser (or even make us your homepage) to make sure you don’t miss any Dolphins news!