The Sports Daily > Phins Phocus
Dolphins Roundup: Soliai hitting the open market, Allen staying in Miami, and Newton creating some buzz

With free agency inevitably in for postponement thanks to the impending work stoppage next month, I thought it was a good time to take a little two week hiatus from the blog to recharge the batteries a little before we delve into our regular offseason posting schedule.

The week before and after the Super Bowl aren’t exactly what you call newsworthy for a franchise that didn’t even make the playoffs, but while I was off, a few noteworthy Dolphins related storylines developed.

Paul Soliai headed for free agency
The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero broke news early last week that Paul Soliai, who is in for a big pay day after a monster year as the Dolphins’ nose tackle, will hit the open market. The Dolphins would normally get the first chance to sway Soliai to resign, but due the “30 percent rule” that is in place this offseason, they will be prohibited from resigning players to a contract worth more than 30 percent of their current deal.

Because Soliai drastically improved his stock, making a jump from borderline starting material to one of the premiere nose tackles in the league in the matter of only a season, the Dolphins have no realistic chance of resigning him before free agency begins. Instead, they will be forced to hand over a lucrative long-term contract to Soliai with possibly several other teams who are looking to plug up the middle of their 3-4 defense competing for his services.

I’ve heard some fans in the blogosphere suggest that the Dolphins should let Soliai walk considering he finally broke through in a contract year and has had trouble keeping his weight down in the past. Personally, I feel like resigning Soliai should be priority number one for the Dolphins’ front office in the free agency period. By season’s end, the Dolphins were becoming dominate against the run week in and week out. An awful lot of that had to do with Paul Soliai.

To run a successful 3-4 defense in this league you need a double-team commanding monster in the middle. They are some of rarest players around, but the Dolphins have one. You just can’t let someone of Soliai’s caliber walk without at least putting up a fight.

The Dolphins have a whole lot going for them on the defensive side of the football. Sure, their offense is light years away, but with a young defense on the verge of potentially making the jump to elite status, winning football might not be as far away as it may seem. Now, the Dolphins just have to make sure they keep the defense together.

Dolphins restructure Will Allen’s contract
A few weeks back, it was made known that the Dolphins were planning on releasing cornerback Will Allen when teams were officially allowed to cut ties with veterans. That news made sense for several reasons. To name a few, the Dolphins have two young corners who appear to have a bright future in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, Will Allen is coming off of two consecutive seasons where he’s landed on the IR, he was scheduled to make the third highest salary of any Dolphin in 2011, and he’s clearly now on the back nine of his career at age 32.

Even though it appeared to be a necessary move, the pros behind retaining a proven veteran like Allen were enough motivation for Jeff Ireland to hammer out a restructured contract that will likely keep Allen in Miami. With Vontae and Sean slatted to be the starting corner tandem once again, keeping Will Allen around should bode well for the Dolphins’ nickel package, as Benny Sapp had his fair share of ups and downs with that role in 2010.

Dolphins reportedly showing interest in Cam Newton
Well, the frenzy of speculation that is NFL draft season is officially underway. Last week, TFY Draft Insider reported that the Miami Dolphins were “inquiring heavily into Newton at this stage of the game.” Being that it’s only February, you would be crazy to put any stock into these reports. Reports like this are going to fly all over the place from now until late April. Some may prove to be legitimate, but most will fizzle out as mere smokescreens or rumors.

Having said that, the Dolphins having interest in Newton makes a lot of sense. For starters, they obviously need a quarterback, Newton is projected to come off the board somewhere in that mid-first round range, and owner Stephen Ross would probably be thrilled with the attention the controversial reigning Heisman trophy winner would bring this franchise.

We are still way too early in the game for me to jump on any bandwagons, but if I had give my ideal mock right now, I would be more in favor of the Dolphins finding a partner to trade down with, recovering a second round pick, and investing a late first round choice in Ryan Mallet. But like I said, it’s still early, and we can all admit that Newton is the most intriguing prospect in the entire draft.