Monday, February 24, 2014

Plenty of internal, external interest in Grimes, Soliai


If last season's spending and new general manager Dennis Hickey's most recent history in Tampa Bay are any indication, the Miami Dolphins will be active when the free agent negotiation period opens March 8.

The team can, however, begin negotiating with its own free agents right away. It's yet to be seen how active Miami will be when pursuing key departing members of its 2013 squad.

According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, the Dolphins are interested in bringing back both of their starting defensive tackles, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, but have not yet made any official offers.

The report states that 'unoffical interest' in the 345-pound Soliai has been high at the NFL Scouting Combine, which wraps up early this week. The Dolphins plan to make offer to the veteran one-technique, who has a renown affection for South Florida, before free agency opens up.

Starks, on the other hand, will likely be allowed to bring back a competing offer after testing out the market, according to the report.

The loss of either creates an immediate need at the corresponding defensive tackle spot in Miami's 4-3 front, lest the team feels veteran Jared Odrick is ready to replace Starks full-time, a legitimate possibility.

The Dolphins' other critical free agent defensive player is cornerback Brent Grimes, the team's first Pro Bowler at the position since 2004. Jackson reports strong mutual interest and ongoing discussions between the sides, and that the franchise tag hasn't yet been mentioned.

"I'm pretty optimistic," Grimes said of a potential long-term deal. "They said they like me here and want to have me back. Hopefully, it happens sooner than later, and I don’t have to worry about it."

Luckily for free agents around the league, it appears that teams will have more salary cap room to play with thanks to revenue increases from the NFL's lucrative TV deals. The cap is reportedly expected to be around $130 million, up from $123 million last year.

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