It was a forgone conclusion at years end that Paul Soliai would walk away from the Miami Dolphins in free agency. The 12 million dollar man from last year’s franchise tag played well enough during the season to garner his first Pro-Bowl nod as an alternate. Now, with free agency only 10 days away, the Dolphins may not send Soliai on his way without at least an attempt to bring him back.
With all the rumors of who the QB’s will be, which seems to simply dominate the forum circuits, Soliai has become an afterthought. The thinking is that Soliai is simply a NT and the move to a 43 defense leaves him without a home in the system. That would be wrong on two levels. One, the Dolphins will likely play the 2012 season in a similar fashion that they have in years past, a hybrid that utilizes both schemes at different times throughout the game as they transition completely to the 43. The other conception is that Soliai can’t play in a 43 and that is wrong as well.
The Dolphins will be in need of defensive lineman, as I stated in my 7 round mock draft, the Dolphins could look to add a guy like Dontari Poe to play as a tackle in that 43. Why not keep Soliai to do the same? In fact, if you want what could be the best defensive front in the NFL why not keep Soliai to play one tackle position and draft Poe to play the other?
O.k. So in reality that is a very unlikely scenario but Soliai could play that tackle position well enough that the Phins would be able to concentrate on other areas of the team and keep guys like Odrick and McDaniels on the outside. Randy Starks has proven he can slide on the line as well so there is value in keeping a solid core together. Recently it was brought to my attention that the Dolphins may not simply be ready to let Soliai walk.
A source told me that Soliai and the team have had conversations but added the two sides are pretty far apart. Something that isn’t surprising considering last years attempt to hash out a long term deal was met with a rather large counter offer by Soliai’s camp leading to the franchise tag. Most will admit and I am one of those, that Soliai isn’t really worth close to the contract he was seeking last year, around 8 to 9 mill a season and I can’t honestly say what they are demanding this year. Truth be told, if the Dolphins want him to play tackle, they are likely wanting to pay him like one.
Soliai will have no problems finding a team in free agency and will likely move elsewhere within the first five days. The Dolphins will not use the franchise tag on him again this year regardless of how they feel about retaining him. In the end, despite the mutual interest on both sides to keep Soliai in Miami, he is going to go to the team who pays him the most. He played out his rookie deal, stayed on and made 12 million for another season, and now will likely sign his final big contract of his career. It would be nice to think he could swing to tackle and stay with Miami but despite the rumors that the two sides are jawing, Soliai will likely be a free man in 10 days.