Posted: 5:34 pm Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
Miami Dolphins re-sign nose tackle Paul Soliai, but does it take them out of running for Peyton Manning?
By Post Staff
The Dolphins beat out the Denver Broncos for a free agent.
No, not Peyton Manning. Instead, nose tackle Paul Soliai canceled a scheduled visit to Denver to instead re-sign with the Dolphins on Wednesday. A source said Soliai signed a two-year deal worth $6 million per season.
Added onto last year’s $12.476 million salary for being the Dolphins’ franchise player, Soliai will have made at least $18 million and as much as $24 million. Soliai will be a free agent again in 2014, when the new NFL TV deals kick in and the salary cap is expected to jump significantly. His salary cap number in 2012 will be a shade over $4 million.
The move could be a sign that the Dolphins are done pursuing Manning. They entered the day with about $14.4 million in salary cap money for 2012, and just committed a chunk of it to Soliai, leaving the team about $10 million to sign free agents and its draft class. Unless the Dolphins plan on restructuring or releasing several more veteran contracts, they won’t have the signing cap space to sign Manning, who is in Nashville today visiting with the Titans. The Broncos and Titans are considered the favorites to sign Manning over the Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals.
Soliai’s signing is surprising given that it took Soliai, the Dolphins’ franchise player in 2011, a long time to get a suitable offer from the Dolphins. He had been prepared to speak with the Broncos, Chiefs, Colts and other teams needing a nose tackle, but had always preferred to stay in Miami, where he has spent his entire five-year career.
Soliai, the Dolphins’ fourth-round pick in 2007, has been one of the Dolphins’ most consistent defenders since taking a starting job prior to the 2010 season. While his numbers aren’t big — just 66 tackles and two sacks the past two seasons — Soliai, who stands 6-foot-4 and 355 pounds, is the linchpin of the defense who often takes on two blockers to allow other defenders to make plays.
Soliai was the Dolphins’ most accomplish free agent still on the market. The only one left now is defensive end Kendall Langford, who wants to return to Miami but has a visit set up with Cincinnati tomorrow and has also been talking with New England and Atlanta.