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.

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Soliai and his agent expressed mixed feelings.

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“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.

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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.