Miami Dolphins behemoth Nose Tackle Paul Soliai will replace Haloti Ngata of the Ravens in this Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl. Soliai probably just earned a little bit more money in his pending free agency negotiations. The Dolphins used the Franchise Tag on Soliai before the 2011 season and paid him over $12 mil.
If you want to know Soliai’s value, don’t look at his statistics, ask the Dolphins linebackers. Soliai recorded 27 tackles and 2 passes defensed. He did not have a sack or force a fumble. So how did he make the Pro Bowl? If you watched Dolphins games this season, you know that Soliai was regularly taking on 2 blockers (Center and Guard) of the opponent. By occupying 2 blockers, Soliai freed up his Dolphins teammates to run around and make plays.
Soliai was drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 draft by Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron. It took Paul a while to find his way to being a very good NFL player, but he got there. Last year he broke out and in 2011, more people around the league took notice. Soliai is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason. The Dolphins could look to use the franchise tag on him again, but that would cost about $15 mil towards the 2012 cap. The Dolphins could also look to sign him to a long term deal. What happens with Soliai will largely depend on who the Dolphins bring in to run their defense. If they stay with a 3-4 defense, it’s almost a certainty that Soliai will be back (probably with a longer term deal). If the Dolphins go to a 4-3, it’s less likely, but still possible. He’d play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense and could still be a force. Either way, Congratulations to Big Paul on this honor!!