Dolphins’ 2012 Unrestricted Free Agents


The Miami Dolphins have some “big boy” decisions to make this offseason regarding their unrestricted free agents (UFAs).  I do realize we are way early in the process of assessing these particular players considering we are still four months away from the draft.  But, it is something we need to keep on our radar since they are essential pieces to the 2012 Dolphins’ personnel puzzle.

By definition, an Unrestricted Free Agent is a player who has at least four years of NFL experience and is not under contract with any team because they either got released, or their contract expired.  UFAs are free to negotiate and sign with other teams at their discretion.  Also, teams are allowed to use the Transition Tag or Franchise Tag on those players who are scheduled to become UFAs.

In February of last year, the Dolphins placed their Franchise Tag on NT Paul Soliai.  This type of tag is a guaranteed contract for one year with an average salary of the five highest paid players at his position.  For Soliai, that amount averaged to be about $12.4 million on the year.  In 2010, his base salary was only $550,000.  Moral of the story, use your Franchise Tag wisely!

Below is a list of the scheduled 2012 UFAs currently on the Dolphins Roster:

DE Kendall Langford

ILB Marvin Mitchell

NT Paul Soliai

DE Phillip Merling

OLB Ikaika Alama-Francis

CB Will Allen

S Tyrone Culver

OG Vernon Carey

OT Marc Colombo

QB Chad Henne

QB J.P. Losman

RB Steve Slaton

I know this discussion of “who should we resign?” and “who should we let go?” is a hot topic for debate among Dolfans.  We all have strong opinions on each of these players.  But in my opinion, the only two guys that I believe the Dolphins need to resign are Paul Soliai and Kendall Langford.  I can see the argument for a few of these other UFAs as Merling, Mitchell, Allen, and possibly Culver, but I just don’t feel they are worth “writing home about.”  All of the others on this list are mediocre to below average players that the Dolphins can afford to let go.

If the next Dolphins’ head coach stays with the 3-4 defense which has been very effective for Miami, in which I believe they will, then they will need an elite nose tackle.  I’m not claiming that Soliai is the absolute best in the NFL, but he does belong in that elite class.  It is extremely difficult to find a solid player at this position and they don’t exactly grow on trees.  It’s too much of a risk to draft a NT and it will be just as costly to pick up one in free agency.  In this 3-4 scheme, the Dolphins are fortunate to have an excellent run stopper like Soliai and they need to do whatever it takes to resign him.  If not, the Dolphins may be forced to switch over to the 4-3.

As for DE Kendall Langford, I believe he is the most underrated player on this team.  He plays a very underappreciated, unglamorous, yet vital position in the 3-4 that requires a two-headed monster:  One that can put pressure on the quarterback AND most importantly, stop the run!  Langford has performed at a high level without missing a single game in four years, since he was drafted in the third round out of Hampton in 2008.  Both Langford and Soliai were major contributors to Miami’s third ranked rushing defense in the NFL giving up only 95.6 yards per game.  Only San Francisco and Baltimore were statistically better.  It’s imperative that both of these guys are resigned and brought back in 2012.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the next head coach will most likely “clean house.”  That’s typical standard operating procedures for any new coaching regime when they take over a “bad” team.  I don’t want to speculate here, but our precious Jake Long could possibly be used as “trade bait” in this year’s draft to move up and select Andrew LuckBrandon Marshall could possibly be traded away to the Bears to unite with his old partner- in-crime, Jay Cutler.  Apparently they have been “tweeting” with each other wishing they were still playing together.

Obviously these are extreme hypothetical scenarios.  But the point is, no one player is safe right now.  There are more question marks than answers that currently surround this team.  Therefore, don’t get too attached to any of these guys because there will be a lot of new faces on this roster in 2012.  I just hope Soliai and Langford are still wearing the Teal and Orange.

Tags: Jake Long Kendall Langford Miami Dolphins Paul Soliai

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  • ChrisLeeuw

    I agree…Langford is a must. Big Paul will be ok to let walk ONLY if the new coach switches to 4-3. Then we’ll probably need to re-sign Merling as well. Odrick, Langford, Starks, Merling could all play inside…with Wake, and a rookie being the ends.

    IMO if we do end up switching to 4-3, a DE becomes a need for that Rnd 1 pick.

  • Lespaul

    Yeah, I agree…wouldn’t want to lose Merling. He has been as solid on the defense as anyone has. Hell, I wouldn’t want to lose big Jake, but if Marshall wants to go the Chicago trade his ass, but get a good deal out of it. It seems like Miami has not made smart trades or acquisitions…they tend to give up a lot for what they get and not get a lot for what they give up.

  • Mattpatrick5

    @Lespaul Yeah, does the name “Wes Welker” ring a bell?

  • stevehoffart

    @Mattpatrick5@Lespaul How many GMs ago was that deal?

  • Mattpatrick5

    @stevehoffart@Lespaul The GM in charge of the move to Trade Welker to the Pats was Randy Mueller. The same guy who brought in Ted Ginn Jr. and John Beck with the first and second round picks in 2007.

  • RandyCarlson

    Philbin was interviewed by Ross today in New York

  • Lespaul

    @Mattpatrick5@stevehoffart@Lespaul yeah, those guys were real movers and shakers. Mueler sucked…

  • Lespaul

    @Mattpatrick5 yeah, what a bonehead move. Trade a guy like Welker to a team in your own division? The guy has kicked our ass ever since…

  • Skybird

    Yes, it’ll be tough to find a quality NT to replace Soliai if he leaves but was he really as productive as you say? I don’t recall hearing his name that much for key stops and tackles.

  • stevehoffart

    @Skybird His productivity can’t be measured by tackles or sacks. Truly the job of a nose tackle is to NOT be moved backwards. Think of Vince Wilfork in NE as the ideal nose tackle, big and fat and strong. He takes up two blockers every time and although he doesn’t make many tackles, he clears the road for the linebackers to step up and take clear shots at the running back.

    There really isn’t many of these guys on the market and the draft class is pretty thin, Dontari Poe out of Memphis might be the only one capable of holding down a true NT spot. It’s going to come down to the Defensive system they choose and their ability to resign Soliai will likely influence that decision.