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Free-agent scouting report: Dolphins NT Paul Soliai

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Posted Feb. 28, 2012 @ 1:03 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

This is the 20th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.

News: It became clear in September that Soliai would be a free agent this offseason when his representatives and the Dolphins could not agree on a long-term deal. The two sides did not come to an agreement last February and Soliai signed the franchise tag, worth $12.5 million, an exponential leap from what he was earning. He played under that tag in 2011. "From Day One, the Dolphins have never really made a big push to get a multiyear deal done," Soliai's agent David Canter told PFW in September. The Dolphins have cleaned house and are expected to run a 4-3 defense more often in 2012 under new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. "I've never felt like the Dolphins have made a very fair push to try to get a multiyear deal done. And I wouldn't anticipate them doing so now with the rumors that they're going to be moving to a 4-3/3-4 hybrid," Canter said on 640 AM in South Florida, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. In the interview, which took place on Feb. 14, Canter made it seem that Soliai most likely will be leaving Miami.

Notes: A five-year veteran, Soliai has played in all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, compiling 26 starts in those two campaigns. In his breakout 2010 season, Soliai had 39 tackles, two sacks, eight tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. In 2011, he had 27 tackles, three tackles for loss and two passes defensed. The Dolphins were 12th in the league in run defense up the middle last season.

Positives: Soliai moves well for his size (6-4, 355 pounds) and has improved immensely over his career. He clogs the running lanes and doesn't need to be spelled as often as you would think. Like Sione Pouha of the Jets, a lot of Soliai's value comes in the fact that he is adept at an important role in the 3-4. While Pouha is 33 years old, Soliai is only 28.

Negatives: Soliai won't get you much in terms of a pass rush and he isn't the type of playmaker that Vince Wilfork of the Patriots is or Haloti Ngata of the Ravens is. He has had talented players around him on the defensive line, which could lead teams to question his abilities.

Risk factor: Low. Soliai has proven over the past two campaigns that he is a hardworking player who can be stout up the middle for a 3-4 defense. He is young and his performance didn't falter while playing under the franchise tag. He fits a niche — as a consistent run stuffer — that is hard for 3-4 teams to fill.

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