MIAMI ( – The linchpin of the Miami Dolphins defense isn’t locked up to a long-term contract and is set to hit unrestricted free agency next year.

Nose tackle Paul Soliai and the Dolphins had until 4 p.m. Tuesday to get a long-term contract extension completed. But, no deal was signed and that leaves the Fins with a huge question mark at nose tackle starting next year.

Soliai and his agent expressed mixed feelings.

“We’re disappointed and excited,” Soliai’s agent David Canter told the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin. “Disappointed that the team never pushed to get a fair deal done, but excited that we’ll be able to explore the market next year.”

Soliai is getting paid $12.5 million for the 2011 season and could get nearly as much on the open market next season.

Soliai and San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson were the only franchise-tagged players to not receive long-term contract offers from their teams.


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