DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins run defense suffered in 2013 and heading into free agency in 2014 there are as many questions along the defensive front as there are answers, especially at the defensive tackle position.
Last season, defensive tackle featured Randy Starks and Paul Soliai starting with Jared Odrick coming inside on passing downs to help with the pass rush. But, the duo of Starks and Soliai may not be long for Miami.
Both players are unrestricted free agents and with less than a week remaining until unrestricted free agency opens up, neither player has received a contract offer from the Dolphins. Miami has reportedly told the player’s agents the Dolphins would like to keep them, but the price is the sticking point.
Starks played under the franchise tag last year and played well, but may want elite left tackle money. Soliai finished out his contract last year with a $5.75 million cost to the Dolphins. Soliai is more of a two-down nose tackle while Starks offers more flexibility by being able to play all downs.
But if the Dolphins are looking to move on from both Starks and Soliai, there is plenty of salary cap space and quality defensive tackles that will be available for the team to choose from in free agency.
The Dolphins have upwards of $32 million in salary cap space, and could free up another $5.4 million by jettisoning injured cornerback Dimitri Patterson at any point.
On the free agent market, the top tackle, according to CBSSports.com, is Linval Joseph formerly of the New York Giants. Joseph is just 25-years-old and could be a solid defensive linemen for several years for any team.
Just behind Joseph are Jason Hatcher, Arthur Jones, Starks, Tyson Jackson, Soliai, and Henry Melton, according to CBSSports.com.
The Dolphins may not want to spend a lot at defensive tackle and the Fins could get around it if they rebuild much of the offensive line in free agency. The Fins could then use the NFL Draft to look for a quality lineman to start opposite Jared Odrick like Ra’Shede Hageman or Louis Nix III.