MIAMI (CBS4) – When the Miami Dolphins look at their offseason priority list, none is bigger, literally, than nose tackle Paul Soliai. The 6’4”, 355 pound Soliai is the key to the 3-4 defense the Fins run.
The Dolphins must make a decision quickly on whether to put the franchise or transition tag on Soliai. The deadline is Wednesday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, but putting the tag on him will cost quite a bit.
If Soliai is franchised by the Fins, he will be offered a contract of more than $12 million for one year, according to Jason LaConfora or NFL.com. That will probably be more than the Fins want to spend on Soliai, who has essentially one good year of production.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Soliai wants a deal bigger than the 5-year, $20.5 million contract the Fins gave Randy Starks in 2008. The difference is Starks has the ability to play both defensive end and nose tackle, while Soliai is strictly a nose tackle at his size.
Soliai had 33 tackles last season including 2 quarterback sacks. He started a total of 14 games, which was the most in his 4 year career. That makes it understandable the Fins would hesitate to give Soliai a large, guaranteed contract.
There’s also the possibility the Fins could be ready to move on without Soliai. The NFL Draft has a true nose tackle who could easily make his way into the second round, Phil Taylor of Baylor.
Taylor stands 6’4” and weighs 330 pounds, roughly the same size as Soliai. He’s very strong and can really stuff the run, both key elements for a 3-4 nose tackle. He was virtually unblockable at the Senior Bowl this year and is slowly starting to move up draft boards.
On the other hand, fans looking for flashy offensive picks in the Draft might roast the Fins for picking another defensive player high in the draft.
If Soilai does hit the open market, his value will be driven up exponentially. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans would love to land Soliai to help anchor their defenses for the next several years.