The Miami Dolphins have used their franchise tag on defensive tackle Randy Starks.

Under terms of the designation, Starks will earn $8.45 million in 2013, although the teams can still work toward a long-term deal up until July 15.

Starks has spent the past five years in Miami and was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2010 and 2012 seasons. He posted 4 1/2 sacks with 27 tackles and an interception this past season.

The Dolphins elected to use the franchise tag on Starks over several other possible candidates, including Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long, running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Brian Hartline and cornerback Sean Smith, all of whom will be eligible to test the open market later this month.

"We have a very good defensive line and keeping that intact is a focus of mine," said Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. "It's a strength and to continue to build the strength is a focus of mine. I don't want to let that strength become just average. I like where it���s at and keeping that a mainstay is important to me."

Starks spent his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He has 32 1/2 career sacks over his nine-year career, including 22 during his five seasons with the Dolphins.