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The Curious Case of Miami Dolphins' Nose Tackle Paul Soliai

Is Paul Soliai worth Vince Wilfork money?
Is Paul Soliai worth Vince Wilfork money?

The Miami Dolphins placed the franchise tag on nose tackle Paul Soliai following the 2010 season.  That tag ensures Soliai will receive $12.4 million for the 2011 season - all of it guaranteed.  The common belief then was Soliai would be given a long term deal, solidifying the middle of the defensive line for years.

That deal hasn't happened.  And now, it won't before Soliai is allowed to test the free agent market.  The deadline to agree to deals with franchise players was this past Tuesday.  Miami and Soliai couldn't come to an agreement.  

Soliai joins the Chargers Vincent Jackson as the only franchise players to not sign deals with their respective teams.  Ten other players all agreed to long term deals.

Vince Wilfork signed a five-year, $40 million ($25 million guaranteed) back in March 2010.  It's believed that the Dolphins actually exceeded those numbers - and it wasn't close to good enough.  

During week 1 action, the Cleveland Browns resigned Ahtyba Rubin through the 2014 season.  He was given $18 million in guaranteed money.

When Wilfork signed his extension last year, the Patriots included the franchise money in the guaranteed money for the life of the contract.

The Dolphins and Soliai's agent, Paul Canter, reportedly traded offers, but neither side found anything worth working toward in any sort of negotiations.  Miami was thought to be offering something in the $18 million guaranteed range, while Canter was expecting the $18 million, plus the $12 million for this year, bringing Soliai to $30 milliom guaranteed.  Canter wanted the new contract to not be a part of this year's deal - the Dolphins view it all as one contract.

Now, the Dolphins will have to wait, and hope they can resign the nose tackle in the offseason, prior to him leaving for another team.  Or, else, they maintain the right to franchise tag him again, which would bring him up to about $15 million guaranteed for 2012.  

While Soliai is a fine, developing nose tackle, is he worth Vince Wilfork numbers?  Can the Dolphins and Soliai work out a deal this offseason, or will Paul be playing somewhere else in 2012?