Randy Starks not thrilled with franchise tag but ready to go
Randy Starks doesn't feel great about not having a long-term deal, but he knows it can work in his favor.
By CHRIS TOMASSON FS Florida
DAVIE, Fla. --Randy Starks doesn't want to leave Miami. But he is aware this could be his final season with the Dolphins.
Starks, the defensive tackle who last season was named to his second Pro Bowl in three years, had wanted during the offseason to sign a long-term deal. But the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on him, tying him to the team for at least one more season while putting his future after that in doubt.
"I don't want to go anywhere else, but if it happens, so be it," Starks said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida after Tuesday's third day of training camp and first day with contact drills. "Jason Taylor even had to go and he'd been here longer than me."
Taylor, a defensive end bound for the Hall of Fame, actually left the Dolphins twice. He departed for Washington in 2008 after having played his first 11 seasons with Miami. He then spent 2010 with the New York Jets, sandwiched between 2009 and 2011 seasons with the Dolphins.
Starks' franchise tag got him a raise to $8.45 million after last year having a $3.75 million base salary and a $5 million cap number. But Stark, entering his sixth Miami season, had wanted to get more money by signing a long-term deal with a lucrative signing bonus.
Upset when he wasn't offered one, Starks boycotted voluntary workouts last spring. He did attend mini-camp, avoiding a fine that would have come had he continued to sit out.
The Dolphins had until last week to sign Starks a long-term deal, but they declined to offer him one. When asked if anything ever was close in negotiations, Starks said, "No, nothing at all."
"I guess they thought my worth wasn't that high, so they slapped the franchise label on me and just keep me for one more year," Starks said. "I was upset. But, at the same time, I'm still blessed. I'm still making double what I made last year. It's in the back of my head, it was, that I could have made more. But that's over with now. I just have to go out there and prove myself again.
"In football, it's all about the signing bonus, guaranteed money. So that's what you always want to do, get that high number. But I still have a chance. I'm 29. I'll be 30 (on Dec. 14). And I still have a chance to get that."
Starks is trying to look at the positive. If he has a big season, he believes he could be in line for a big deal, whether it's with Miami or somewhere else.
"That's my whole goal," Starks said. "I'm just trying to play good, lead my team to the playoffs and the (AFC East) division title or whatever and see what happens. ... You never know. It can go either way (what happens). So I just pray and make sure everything works out for me."
The Dolphins could put one more franchise tag on Starks, tying him up for at least another season. But that would require a 20 percent raise, meaning Starks then would be paid $10.14 million. Otherwise, Starks would become a free agent.
Having missed voluntary workouts, Starks said he's now backing up Jared Odrick at defensive tackle while he's "getting in shape." Starks did say he is at his listed weight of 305 pounds.
"Randy is hungry regardless," Odrick said when asked if Starks could have even more incentive this season due to his contract situation. "Business is going to be business. That's his job to deal with that and the team's to deal with that. He's out there to play just like the rest of us and handle his business off the field. He's a vet. He knows how to do that."
Starks became upset about his contract situation when he learned March 2 the Dolphins would franchise him. He tweeted that day, "I want to be a dolphin!!! Not just for one more year..." On March 3, he tweeted, "Discount yea clearance rack heck no!" and "want to be here and finish here!"
Starks, who played his first four years with Tennessee, is entering his 10th overall season. He's the seventh-oldest player on a young Dolphins team, so it remains to be seen if age might end up working against him. In the meantime, Starks continues to emphasize how much he wants to remain in Miami.
"I've always wanted to be here," said Starks, who is from Waldorf, Md., which is outside Washington. "It's South Florida. (Starks likes) this organization, it's a nice city, great weather all year long. ... I feel like it's home, a second home to me."
Even if Starks has to leave home next year, he could be reminded that at least Taylor returned. Twice.