One of the bigger question the 2012 Dolphins face is what to do with Paul Soliai. Soliai was franchise tagged before the lockout and signed a 1-year contract, which guaranteed him at least $12M dollars. If he isn't resigned this off season, he will become an unrestricted Free Agent.
After a slow start, Soliai has essentially picked up where he left off in 2011. The Dolphins are currently 3rd in the NFL in rush defense, yielding 93.4 yards/game, and the brick wall in the middle 'A.K.A. Paul Soliai' is a big reason why. Let's take week 14 against Philadelphia as an example of Soliai's impact in that game. All game we witnessed rush after rush where LeSean McCoy had to bounce a designed inside run to the outside because there was no room in the middle. Practically every run where he stayed true to the play call and ran it between the tackles, he was stoned at the LOS. McCoy had his worst YPC average of the season (1.4), finishing with 38 yards on 27 carries (2 TD's).
Now I'm not saying Soliai had everything to do with that containment, but it was 1 example of many where he simply did a fine job inside tying up 2 defenders and basically becomes an immovable object at the LOS. He's just extremely difficult to move off the block. Opposing teams have to gameplan runs to the edge to generate decent yardage on the ground. Credit goes to Dansby and Burnett as well for our stellar ground defense.
So the conundrum becomes: What to do with Paul Soliai? He basically does 1 thing extremely well - he occupies space inside the tackles and stops the run. He won't make tons of tackles, get many sacks or make any plays off the ball, but how many NT's do? Outside of Haloti Ngata, who is unquestionably the best overall player at his position, how many inside defensive tackles stop the run as well as Soliai does?
That said, in today's NFL, does it make sense to pay Soliai 5 years/$50M dollars or something to that effect? Would it make more sense to go after a FA Defensive End, WR, CB or S and get more 'bang for the buck' for that kind of money? Should great run stuffing - in the middle only - command that type of deal? Perhaps a sign & trade to move up in the draft would extract appropriate value from PS? And would a change to a 4-3 defensive scheme help or hurt Soliai's on-field value to this club?
The Dolphins have a tough decision to make in 2012