Randy Starks is due some $8.5 million this fall. It appears he is keen on collecting every penny of it.
After boycotting the spring’s voluntary workouts and organized team activities in protest of the franchise tag, Starks will be back at Dolphins camp Tuesday.
Here is why: Skipping the mandatory minicamp would cost him $66,000 in fines, according to league rules.
That’s incentive enough for Starks, who will be on the field when the three-day, shorts-and-helmets summer session begins Tuesday, the Miami Herald has learned.
What remains a mystery: If his starting job at defensive tackle is in jeopardy. In Starks’ absence this spring, Jared Odrick has shifted inside from defensive end and worked alongside Paul Soliai with the first team.
“Versatility in anything really makes you more valuable, and that’s at any position,” Odrick said last week. “I’m just trying to work and master my craft, whatever that craft may be.”
Odrick’s role ultimately might depend on how much Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan can develop.
Vernon, now in his second year, took first-team snaps at defensive end during OTAs.
Jordan, the No. 3 pick in April’s draft, can’t work with the Dolphins this spring because his school (Oregon) operates on the quarters system, but he would presumably compete at that position come training camp too.
If Jordan would win the job, he would be one of as many as five new starters on defense in 2013.
Philip Wheeler, a linebacker signed during free agency, is another.
“Right now ... I’m just trying to focus on learning the defense, stop making mistakes, and then we’ll see about that,” Wheeler said, when asked about his strengths as a player.
The good news: Experimentation and personal growth is relatively stress-free when the season opener is three months away.
The top two priorities — and probably in this order — for the spring program are to stay healthy and to go over the playbook enough times that there’s some retention when training camp opens in five weeks.
The Dolphins have been relatively lucky when it comes to injuries.
Jamar Taylor needed surgery for a sports hernia, which will keep him out of minicamp, but he is expected to make a full recovery by the start of training camp.
Some other story lines to watch this week:
But above all, the biggest question of the summer — and the whole season, for that matter — is this: Will Ryan Tannehill develop into the franchise quarterback that leads this team out of the postseason wilderness?
“Last year at this time my head was spinning,” Tannehill said. “I was just trying to figure out how things worked. I didn’t really know how the day went, how the offseason went, how practices went.
“So being in it a year, I am completely comfortable. Now I can go out and focus on all the little things that go into the game.”