Earlier this month, Randy Starks' agent told the Miami Herald it was "unlikely" that his client would be back with the Dolphins. "He's looking forward to moving on," Starks' agent, Tony Paige, said.
But Paige also mentioned that Starks would consider an offer from Miami if one came. It did ... and just like that, all is well in the relationship between the Dolphins and its one-time franchise-tagged defensive tackle.
Starks signed a two year, $12 million deal Wednesday to stay with the Dolphins. He'll be joined along the interior of the line by new addition Earl Mitchell, formerly of the Texans. Mitchell nabbed a four-year, $16 million deal from Miami in the opening hours of free agency, about the time that Starks' former DT running mate, Paul Soliai, inked a contract in Atlanta.
Mitchell, Starks and returning veteran Jared Odrick should form the main components of Miami's rotation at the tackle spots. Thanks to those first two players, the Dolphins should be particularly stout against the run -- that's the strength of Mitchell's game and Starks has helped anchor Miami's D-line for the past six seasons. Starks was slapped with the franchise tag prior to 2013, then split time with Odrick and Soliai up front, a development that seemed to pave the way for him to depart via free agency.
Miami should be mostly set along its defensive line now that the 30-year-old Starks, a two-time Pro Bowler, has decided to stay. Cameron Wake, 2013 first-rounder Dion Jordan and 2012 third-rounder Olivier Vernon form an athletic grouping at the edge positions to complement the solid base formed inside by Starks and Co.
This move is a slightly unexpected boost for the Dolphins, who were seemingly on the verge of losing both DT starters. Grade: A. I really thought Starks would move the needle more as a free agent -- he's a durable, productive tackle. A Starks-Mitchell combo should not be much of a drop-off, if any, from a Soliai-Starks pairing.