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Miami Dolphins News: Paul Soliai gets franchise tag; Jeremy Shockey takes physical

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It was an active Thursday for the Miami Dolphins - a day that began with general manager Jeff Ireland meeting the media at the Combine and ended with over $12 million being handed to the anchor of their 3-4 defense.

I'll have more tomorrow with some thoughts on Ireland's chat with the media. But for now, the big news is that the Dolphins have placed the franchise tag on unrestricted free agent nose tackle Paul Soliai. Once he signs it - and it's clear from his agent that Soliai will sign it as soon as he can - Paul will be guaranteed $12.381 million in 2011.

"Paul couldn’t be more excited about it," Soliai's agent David Canter said. "It’s a tremendous amount of respect from the organization, and hopefully it leads to a long term contract extension."

The move comes as a bit of a surprise. Earlier in the day, Ireland said regarding Soliai's impending free agency that "there’s been some talks back and forth. It’s obviously a big need, to have him back." The Dolphins must have felt like allowing a 27 year old nose tackle coming off of an outstanding season test the free agent market was too much of a risk for the team to take, especially with so many teams running 3-4 defenses.

I agree. This move is a smart, calculated risk to take.

The other big story today involves free agent tight end Jeremy Shockey, recently released by the Saints. Shockey's agent Drew Rosenhaus has made it clear that Jeremy is interested in joining the Dolphins. He loves the city of Miami and spends practically all his free time in South Florida, after all.

The Dolphins have a need at tight end, too. Makes a perfect match, right? Well Jeff Ireland said this morning that he had not yet spoken with Shockey's representation. But he did add that "if you know me, I’m gonna look at every acorn that falls off the tree."

That's why it should come as no surprise that ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this afternoon that Shockey took and passed a physical with the Dolphins. What this means moving forward is not known. But as Ireland says, they are looking at every acorn.