Paul Soliai seems to be dominating the news and the message boards these days around the Internet. Once a forgone conclusion to be released in training camp, the last standing Hawaiian from the Cam Cameron/Randy Mueller draft class is set to hit the open market and is expected to have more than a few suitors for his services. I suppose “why?” would be a good question to ask, as in why, is Paul Soliai the one of the top topics of free agent conversation?
There is no doubt that Solia played his best football this past season, locking down the coveted NT spot on defense and helping Miami become a top 5 NFL defense. He has steadily improved over the last three years under the Tony Sparano led team but was last years production the product of a contract year or was it his progression to becoming something of a yearly fixture at the position?
Soliai came close several times to losing his job but depth issues kept him on the team. Uncertainty in year one surrounding the health of Jason Ferguson also kept Soliai alive on the teams 53 man roster. He took advantage of the experience and became far more involved in practices. Last year the Dolphins moved DE Randy Starks to the NT position only days following the drafting of DE Jared Odrick and again, Soliai was the back-up.
Soliai would take over the NT position in week 2 when Odrick was lost for the year and Starks was moved back outside. He didn’t let it go. His play last season didn’t earn him Pro-Bowl honors but it earned him the opportunity to hit free agency as a coveted NT.
The Dolphins approached Soliai mid-season about a contract extension but the Soliai camp was much higher than the Dolphins value of him. An initial contract offer was shot down and Soliai is expected to hit the open market. He wants to stay in Miami supposedly so it’s likely that he will go out and see what’s being offered and then ask the Dolphins if they will match before leaving town. Whether the Dolphins will share the same value will have to remain to be seen.
The question is whether Soliai is a legit future star at the position or a one year wonder. Should the Dolphins invest a lot of money into the contract of Soliai to keep him or is the asking price simply too much for the Dolphins to take a chance on. By the start of training camp we will know what figure Soliai is bringing in. What we do know now is that the Dolphins don’t view him as a franchise player and thus won’t use the tag on him.
Still, all things considered it is quite humorous to know that Paul Soliai of all people has the market cornered so far on Dolphins free agent talk.