Using the franchise tag on Starks ensures that Miami's defensive line, which has been the strength of the team since 2009, remains intact one more season because all four starters will be returning.
Starks, who began his career with the Dolphins as a reserve and developed into a two-time Pro Bowler, contributed 27 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one interception. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2012 for his contributions on a defensive line that limited opponents to 4.0 yards per carry.
Tagging Starks, who just completed a five-year, $20.5 million deal he signed with Miami in 2008, deletes the Dolphins' available cap space from $45 million to less than $38 million. But it is possible the Dolphins could preserve more cap space by signing Starks to a mutli-year deal before the June 15 deadline, which is when he's required to sign the franchise tag.
However, if Starks, 29, signs the contract his 2013 salary will be fully guaranteed.
Starks has started 67 games in five seasons for the Dolphins, contributing 176 tackles, 22 sacks and four interceptions.
With Miami committing $8.45 million to Starks, the Dolphins presently have $45.45 million of the team's cap space ($123 million) allotted to seven defensive players.
The Dolphins will likely level out the imbalance in free agency considering the Dolphins will likely add a couple frontline receivers, a tight end or two, and offensive linemen when
Placing the franchise tag on Starks virtually guarantees
However, Dolphins General Manager