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Starks deal done; Dolphins free agent chatter and more players on their radar; Heat, Marlins

Wednesday morning update: After not making an offer to Randy Starks between last April and Tuesday afternoon, the Dolphins re-engaged with Starks' agent last night, and the sides were finalizing a new contract on Wednesday morning, according to a source.

3 p.m. UPDATE: The deal is done. Starks re-signed for two years, a deal that can be worth as much as $12 million. But not all of that is guaranteed.

Re-signing Starks gives Miami a solid three-tackle rotation with Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell.  Pro Football Focus ranked Starks seventh among all d-tackles last season.

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 Dolphins tidbits as the free agency gates swing open:

 ### The Dolphins assuredly upgraded at left tackle (Branden Albert) and safety (Louis Delmas), but there are questions about their strategy at defensive tackle (Earl Mitchell is very likely in, though he hasn't signed yet; Paul Soliai is out), and all three newcomers have both strengths and blemishes.

The good news on Delmas: He makes more impact plays (five sacks, six picks in 65 career games) than departing Chris Clemons (1.5 sacks, four picks in 72 games). Delmas allowed only 43.8 percent of passes thrown against him to be completed last season (14 for 32), which was best in the league among all safeties.

The bad news: When he’s burned, he’s burned badly, because he takes poor angles at times. The 14 receptions against him in 2013 averaged (gulp!) 22.4 yards, worst in the league. He missed 13 combined games with knee problems over 2011 and 2012; he played in every game last season but missed a lot of practice time because of his knees.

The good news on Albert (SKIP OVER THESE TWO PARAGRAPHS IF YOU READ THE LAST POST): He relinquished just four sacks in 555 pass rushing chances last season, which is exceptional, and allowed the fewest quarterback hurries (13) of any tackle who played nearly that much. Over the past three years, he has consistently ranked in the top 12 among all tackles in pass blocking.

The worrisome news? Though he graded out very well as a run blocker in 2010 and 2011, he was slightly below average last season (40th of 76), per PFF.com. He has had back problems in the past, but the Dolphins believe that’s a non-issue now. His nine penalties last year were among the most per snap among tackles.

The good news on the 6-3, 300-pound Mitchell: At 26, he’s four younger than Starks and Soliai. He was highly coveted. ESPN’s Bill Polian ranks him as the fifth-best free agent at any position in the entire class. He has pass rush potential; PFF insists he had four sacks last season (NFL.com credits him with only 1.5) and ranked him 26th of 69 tackles as a pass rusher.

ESPN’s Scouts Inc. says Mitchell “has become a real inside force and one of the most productive penetrators in the NFL at generating consistent inside pressure. He is a much better athlete than most guys who play his position, and his effort is outstanding. He is a one-gap penetrator with good quickness and really works to finish the play. He is young and will only get better.”

The bad news: PFF ranked him 57th of 69 against the run in 2013. And overall, PFF rated him 51st among tackles last season, compared with seventh for Starks, 13th for Jared Odrick and 20th for Soliai.

### The Dolphins presented Soliai with a last-minute two-year, $11.5 million offer, with only the first year guaranteed. What’s more, Soliai was given only a 24-hour window to accept Miami's offer after receiving it last Friday. He got a much better deal from Atlanta (five years, $33 million, $14 million guaranteed).

### Besides Mitchell (who will be paired with Odrick), the Dolphins want to add another defensive tackle. [WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Now we know it will be Starks.] They have inquired about several who have been both starters and reserves, including Cam Thomas (San Diego) and Terrence Cody (Baltimore). They called about pricey Tyson Jackson, who signed with Atlanta.

### The Dolphins are exploring the right tackle market and are interested in several, with free agents Austin Howard (he and the Jets couldn’t come to terms Tuesday afternoon) and Breno Giacomini (Seattle) on their radar. [UPDATE: Howard agreed to terms with Oakland late Tuesday night, according to ESPN. And Giacomini will visit the Jets.] New Orleans' Zach Strief is the best free agent right tackle available and certainly not out of the question for Miami. But he would be pricey.

### The Dolphins missed out on two of their preferences at guard: Rodger Saffold (who got more money -- five years, $42.5 million -- to sign as a tackle with Oakland) and former Bronco Zane Beadles (Miami made a good offer, but Jacksonville bid more at five years, $30 million).

But the Dolphins have expressed interest in several free agent guards who are still available, including former Dolphin Wade Smith (16 starts for Houston last season, rated 59th of 81 guards by PFF/ four sacks allowed) and former Packer and Cardinal Daryn Colledge (rated 39th of 81 guards, two sacks relinquished for Arizona last season).

They also have shown interest in Evan Dietrich Smith, who was PFF’s eight-ranked center last season but also has experience at guard, where he would presumably play if Miami signs him. Dietrich-Smith plans to visit Tampa Bay, but Miami has inquired.

### Running back is not a priority for the Dolphins, but Dolphins executive Dawn Aponte called Tuesday to check in with the firm that represents free agents Ben Tate, Toby Gerhart and Donald Brown. All three had very good per-carry averages last season, and any of those or several others are possibilities at the right price. [UPDATE: Gerhart agreed to terms with Jacksonville tonight, per NFL Network. And late tonight, Donald Brown agreed to terms with the Chargers, according to NFL Network.]

### Cornerback Dimitri Patterson was cut only after declining the Dolphins’ offer to take a pay cut from his $5.4 million salary. But Patterson likes Miami and the sides haven’t ruled out a return at a lower price. Meanwhile, cornerback Nolan Carroll --- who wants starter’s money --- was scheduled to visit Buffalo on Tuesday night.

### New GM Dennis Hickey advocated that Tampa draft linebacker Dekoda Watson, so it’s no surprise that Miami has inquired about Watson, who took his first free agent visit to Jacksonville on Tuesday.

### With the Joe Philbin connection, the Dolphins have shown interest in one former Packer (receiver James Jones, according to draftinsider.com), but not another (they haven’t called on tight end Jermichael Finley, who’s visiting Seattle).

COUPLE OTHER ITEMS

### Partly because of his defense, guard Toney Douglas has really grown on this Heat coaching staff after Heat people were lukewarm initially…. It’s surprising and could even be perceived as disrespectful that Miami kept guard DeAndre Liggins, who’s on a 10-day contract, active for Monday’s game while leaving James Jones inactive and thus in a suit. Jones said he hasn’t asked Erik Spoelstra for an explanation, and Spoelstra hasn’t given him one. “It’s not necessary to explore,” Jones said. “He has his reasoning. I trust him.”…

When Dwyane Wade --- the only shooting guard in history to average at least one block per game in his career --– blocked 6-10 Drew Gooden on Monday, it marked the 143rd time he has blocked a shot of an opponent at least six inches taller. Remarkable.

### As of Tuesday morning, MLB hadn’t ruled out fining Red Sox owner John Henry for his tweet that the Marlins should apologize for their regular season lineup. MLB doesn’t like owners taking shots at other teams. In 2009, Henry was fined $500,000 for suggesting that several teams (the Marlins were implied as one of them) were pocketing revenue-sharing money.           

Comments

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Go gogo

Mitchell has not signed, you jumped off the gun

Solia big fukkkkkk up

Jeff

Of course, the Dolphins upgraded at left tackle with Branden Albert. They didn't have one!

Barry Jackson

Correct, Mitchell has not signed as of 6:26 p.m. Herald (Armando Salguero) and ESPN have reported they have agreed to terms.... And Jeff, I meant they have upgraded over what they had last year. Naturally.

Bobbyd12

Unless something disasterous happens, Mitchell is pretty much a done deal.

frostdog0819

Thanks Barry.best read in the herald all the time.

Rudester

Barry did not say that Mitchel signed. Learn to read GO gogo.

Big fan Barry. Let's hope that when you break down the decisions being made this free agent period next year the results are not as disastrous as the 2013 class of free agents turned out. Phins need to learn that you build through the draft. And of course have better drafts.

Fl

Why didn't we just keep jake long? Is this guy that much better? He certainly doesn't seem that much cheaper....

NeMo

Thanks for all the great information Barry.

joe r

they shouldn't try to build a team through free agency, plug a few holes, the draft is where its at; give hickey some time to undo irelands missteps

Mario's

It seems to me that free agency works best for teams who plug holes with mid or low tier guys instead or the big money guys, specially for teams who are close and have a chance to win it all. Seattle, Broncos, Patriots, etc... They sign low money free agents to compete for a a spot, for depth, or play roles specific for them. The losing teams get desperate and blow their cap on players who have seen better days.Im not against the Albert signing cause we have a great need atone of the most important spots but hope that from here on the Fins sit low cost young guys and have a good draft. We need patience and a 3 year plan, not try to build a Super Bowl team in one year.

employee

MLB should fine Loria just for being his POS self.

Mario's

Agreed they should name it "The Loria Rule". National Tv money should be divided according to how much teams spent in salary to a certain number, nowadays I would say 125 million, and a heavy penalty if you spend below 60 mil.
Then teams can keep their local TV money.

If you ask me Bud Selig is an underground part owner of the Marlins, otherwise how the heck did Loria get to buy the team in the first place? The whole shuffle deal with the Red Sox, Marlins, Nationals was very suspect.

Mario's

I left out the Expos. I mean they could have just moved to Washington and Loria would still own the Nationals right?

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Jeff Loria was literally the bad guy from Major League trying to tank to move the team.

CARNE CON PAPAS

I think the Dolphins are a little gun shy after possibly over paying for Wallace last offseason and then learning that T-Hill couldnt get him the ball over the coverage. It seems they are reverting to meat and potatoes with anversion to risk taking on offensive playmakers.

Fl

Why didn't we just keep jake long?

green

green really is wrong about pretty much everything he posts about.

He's not even a UM fan, just has a weird ACC fetish.

Posted by: Lt. Lois Einhorn | 02/27/2014 at 02:50 PM

http://www.theacc.com

The ACC has been the star of the college basketball season on ESPN.

Saturday’s North Carolina/Duke men’s college basketball game earned 3.5 million viewers on ESPN ... The game ranks as the fourth-most viewed college basketball game of the season on ESPN, trailing only the two Duke/Syracuse games and Michigan State/Kentucky in December.

Entering championship week, six of the eight most-viewed college basketball games on ESPN this season involved at least one ACC team. Five of the top ten have been ACC conference match-ups.
-- smw

Guess what? Louisville is coming
-- TexanMark

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS

Marios

This is awesome news that Starks is coming back!! Last year he was the best DL we had.

He gets in the backfield, is mobile, agile, and hostile(even to coaches LOL).

If we get 2 mid level OL in FA I'm gonna get a Hickey too.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

College basketball is atrocious, they dribble around for half a minute and then chuck up garbage. Terrible defense, terrible passing, no skilled offensive players (or maybe one or two who are playing a year before bolting to the NBA).

I don't care how much the ACC makes from it, you couldn't pay me to sit through an entire college basketball game.

D Graham

Get Revis, would have top 5 defense.

Marios

Lt. Einhorn
I I have to agree, nowadays you rarely know who these guys are and it's not the same. but blame the NCAA for expecting free labor for a multimillion $$ biz.

The 83 tourney IMO was the best ever, NC State, Phi Slamma Jamma, Louisville(my team) with the McCray brothers(Scooter and Rodney), Milt Wagner, Billy Thompson, Lancaster Gordon. They could beat half the teams in the NBA now.

It is my belief that anybody, any age, has the right to practice any profession if there is demand for their talents.
The NCAA needs to pay the athletes, there would also be benefits like keeping talented player around longer. What a bunch of hypocrites.

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