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Miami Dolphins will likely franchise Randy Starks

If you have been following the news regarding the Miami Dolphins three big free agents recently, you won’t be surprised with this recent story coming from CBS Sports’s NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. League sources tell La Canfora that the Miami Dolphins will likely franchise veteran defensive tackle Randy Starks, who is their most valuable player hitting the free agent market.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike Jake Long, Starks is not a declining player. Unlike Sean Smith, Starks has proven to be a consistent force on defense and has more leadership value than Smith. While the Dolphins can still re-sign the former two players (Smith is more likely), Starks would be harder to keep on the free agent market. Losing Starks would also hurt the overall effectiveness of the defensive line, and he is the impending Dolphins free agent with the least question marks and the most ability at this juncture.

Wide receiver Brian Hartline and running back Reggie Bush are two key free agents on the offensive side of the ball, and I expect the former to be back but not the latter. While Bush has repeatedly stated his desire to stay in Miami, the ‘Fins interest doesn’t seem to be mutual due to their love for rising young back Lamar Miller. Bush is their only established playmaker on offense, though, and this is on a team whose owner admitted is bereft of playmaking talent on both sides of the ball. Hartline isn’t a playmaker, but he is the team’s best receiver and has plenty of talent and interest from the Dolphins. Although the team wants to go after a true No. 1 wide receiver like Greg Jennings or Mike Wallace, they would be wise to keep Hartline and give Ryan Tannehill as much talent as possible.

Starks is the most logical choice for the franchise tag as one of the league’s finest defensive lineman, and he will get $8.45 million. Per La Canfora, the Dolphins are much more interested in giving long-term pacts to Long and Smith. The team feels the same way about Starks, but they realize it will be difficult to re-sign him, and they don’t want to run the risk of him hitting the market. If they cannot pull a deal before the deadline, then the Dolphins will be slapping the tag.

Armando Salguerro reported and reiterated that the Dolphins would not tag Sean Smith, and it really comes down to either Starks or Smith for the tag. Starks is the better candidate, so this report comes as no surprise.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

Topics: Brian Hartline, Jake Long, Miami Dolphins, Randy Starks, Reggie Bush, Sean Smith

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