DOLPHINS | PAUL SOLIAI
Through increased maturity, film study and weight control, defensive lineman Paul Soliai's value has increased considerably -- in a contract year.
New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson gets stopped in the backfield by the Miami Dolphins' Paul Soliai in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium.
BY BARRY JACKSON
More than a year ago, when Paul Soliai was consistently overweight, tardy on at least one occasion and skidding on dangerously thin ice, the Dolphins told his now-former agent that Soliai was fortunate he had such an appealing skill set for a man his size.
Because otherwise, the Dolphins said at the time, Soliai would be gone from the organization.
Now in his fourth season, Soliai has matured into the player the Dolphins hoped he would be when he was selected by the Cam Cameron/Randy Mueller regime with the 108th pick in the 2007 draft. And he's doing it in a contract year, forcing the Dolphins to reassess how much to pay a player whose value has risen considerably.
``I see myself as a starter, but that's up to the coaches,'' said Soliai, who has started nine of 10 games since Jared Odrick's season-ending injury forced Randy Starks' move from nose tackle back to defensive end.
David Canter, Soliai's new agent, said this week the Dolphins ``want Paul back and want him at what they feel is their fair price. We're not close or far apart. We've had positive talks. These deals can happen very rapidly.''
Canter said the 30 percent rule has made getting a deal done more challenging. Under that rule, a player in his first contract cannot get a base-salary raise exceeding 30 percent of his previous year's salary ($550,000 in Soliai's case). But the Dolphins can compensate for that by giving a player as big a signing bonus as it chooses, as it did this year with Davone Bess.
``We have not come to an agreement on the bonus,'' Canter said.
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