Big Day for Dolphins: Soliai receives franchise tag, Shockey passes physical

On a day where the biggest league wide news was supposed to be the opening of the 2011 NFL combine, the Dolphins have had themselves a buzz worthy 24 hours. We all know that the Dolphins have a lot of work to do this offseason on the offensive side of the football, but there was one crucial order of business that needed to be taken care of on the other side.

Of course I’m referring to retaining nose tackle Paul Soliai, who was scheduled to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent before the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on him today. It’s a huge investment for the Dolphins, as Soliai is now guaranteed $12.381 million in 2011. But you could argue that letting him hit free agency would have been considerably more costly. The Dolphins don’t have any legitimate weaknesses on defense, and with Soliai now slated to once again anchor the D-line, Mike Nolan’s unit may be all set to rise to elite status in 2011.

I still think they could upgrade in the pass rushing department and either Reshad Jones or Chris Clemons needs to develop into a reliable free safety, but bringing Soliai back ensures that the Dolphins should pick up where they left off in 2010 as one of the stingiest front sevens against the run in the entire league.

In other news, the Dolphins are apparently the leading candidate to land suddenly available Jeremy Shockey. League sources reported earlier today that Shockey passed a physical with the Dolphins. Although nothing has been confirmed as far as negotiations go, it’s only logical to assume that both parties are interested in getting a deal done.

Shockey reportedly would love to return to Miami, where he played college ball for the Hurricanes and where he currently resides in the offseason. The Dolphins, meanwhile, could use a tight end with the receiving skills Shockey would bring to the table. On paper, everything adds up. But let’s hold off on further delving into how Shockey would benefit the Dolphins until we hear official word of a signing.

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