The 30 million dollar question this off season for the Miami Dolphins front office is not about Peyton Manning, but rather about Paul Soliai, their stalwart of a Nose Tackle.
Playing the position of Nose tackle in the NFL takes an extreme amount of strength and self control as offensive linemen are prepared to double and sometimes triple team the player in order to keep the player off of their running back or sometimes QB.
Paul Soliai is a player that has evolved over the years and was paid a handsome sum in the form of a franchise tag to make him the man that stops the run and puts pressure on the quarterback which allows hungry linebackers to shoot the gaps.
Soliai was paid last year based on his 2010 performance and in 2011, he found his way to the quarterback and made key plays on defense.
The question remains, has Soliai become expendable for the Miami Dolphins and can they bring in someone younger and even tougher in free agency or the draft and the answer is no.
Teams such as the Ravens and Patriots have Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork respectively, both players set the tone for the defense and late in the game, they are the guys grinding it out getting a timely pressure to close out with a game on the line.
In addition, both players play in a 3-4 defense primarily.
Currently the Dolphins are slated to play 3-4, but with more 4-3 looks than they have had in previous years.
Here are some reasons for re-signing Soliai:
1. Soliai can make plays and has success forcing enough pressure in order to sack the quarterback.
2. Soliai is coming off of a pro bowl season and has stayed relatively healthy.
3. Soliai is a stalwart defensive tackle in a defense with three down linemen, stopping the runs up the middle.
4. Despite preliminary figures on the salary cap situation for Miami, should his potential 2012 earnings exceed the 9 million the Dolphins are rumored to be under the cap, his contract can be spread out to future years.
Here is a reason for the Dolphins should not sign Soliai:
1. Soliai plays 2-3 downs. His size and strength make him more of specialist than an everydown lineman. He can’t be there in a pass down because a quicker Jared Odrick could fill the position and make more of an impact withi his speed.
2. Soliai is expensive. Soliai wants 25-30 million in bonus plus an annual salary. It’s a lot of risk that you pay, but could land out of shape living large with a new contract and he could slack off in his preparation.
3. Soliai may be a pro bowler, but he is not a super bowl player. If the Dolphins want to go to the Super Bowl, other areas such as QB, TE, OL might be a better place to spend the money.
4. Soliai could be looking to play only in a 3-4. A formation that is better suited for him so he can let the Line backers finish the job. It is possible that the hiring of DC Kevin Coyle might be looking for a Tank Johnson type and bring a more Tampa 2 look with a 4-3 front in Miami.
While Soliai in theory could be a very good signing for Miami, it would be behoove the Dolphins to look at other areas of need and say that they can’t afford a player who wants a 4-5 year deal and QB money at that.