The Dolphins surprised few around the NFL on Monday when they applied the franchise tag to defensive tackle Randy Starks hours before the 4 p.m. deadline, keeping him off the free agent market and guaranteeing him $8.45 million this season.
More interesting though, were the names of players who didn’t get the franchise tag, both in Miami and across the league.
The Dolphins’ decision means they are prepared to let other teams bid for their free agents, including left tackle Jake Long, cornerback Sean Smith, running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Brian Hartline, tight end Anthony Fasano and safety Chris Clemons.
A couple of intriguing receivers did not receive the franchise tag, either — Green Bay’s Greg Jennings and Tennessee tight end Jared Cook. Either would be a significant upgrade for the Dolphins, who are seeking better targets for Ryan Tannehill.
The Dolphins are expected to inquire about both players — as well as Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace — once the free agent negotiating period begins Saturday.
One potential addition was taken off the market when Kansas City signed receiver Dwayne Bowe to a five-year deal.
Jennings, 30, is likely to leave Green Bay after seven seasons. He caught 53 touchdowns passes, was named to two Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl while playing for Joe Philbin, now the Dolphins’ coach and formerly the Packers’ offensive coordinator.
Cook, a third-round pick in 2009, is likely to leave Tennessee, and the Dolphins could use an athletic pass-catcher at tight end. Cook has only eight TD catches in four seasons, but is 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds and ran a 4.49 in the 40 before the ‘09 draft.