The Miami Dolphins went into free agency knowing a few things. The team had to sign offensive line help, especially at guard.
The team could not keep Paul Soliai and Randy Starks in the middle of the defensive line. The team also needed depth on the defensive line and in the secondary.
So far, all of these propositions have come to fruition.
The Dolphins shored up its secondary by re-signing Brent Grimes and bringing in Louis Delmas of the Detroit Lions. General manager Dennis Hickey signed Kansas City offensive lineman Branden Albert to a multi-year deal and signed Houston Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell.
Then – knowing the defensive front was not going to be the same after Soliai signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons, Hickey reached into his magic hat and pulled out a new contract for Starks to remain with the team and help to keep continuity on the defensive line.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported early Wednesday that the two sides were nearing a deal that would pay Starks an average of $6 million per season, while NFL.com confirms that the deal is being finalized. It is a huge move for the Dolphins – a team that had a solid front four last season and wanted to retain as many players as possible. Starks started with returning linemen Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon. Mitchell will be given every opportunity to start in 2014.
Starks played under the franchise tag last season, earning $8.45 million for 2013.
The Dolphins still need to fill more holes on the offensive line and create depth as well. They could also be in the market for a linebacker – as they were players in the chase to sign D’Qwell Jackson before he inked a deal with Indianapolis.
The running back slot still has Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas listed as one and two on the depth chart, but a lack in production could mean if a runner falls to them in the third or fourth day of free agency, they may take a look at him or could look to the NFL Draft to find a new starter.