The Dolphins decided to invest more than $12 million for 2011 in defensive tackle Paul Soliai, a four-year veteran as to whom the team has the foresight to apply the franchise tag, despite the fact that he would have been a restricted free agent under 2010’s rules. And despite a history of being overweight during the season, Soliai has reached his ideal playing weight — 342 pounds — during the lockout.
“It’s a lot of stuff you got to sacrifice to be committed to what you want to accomplish,” Soliai told Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m right where the Dolphins want me to be at. My weight’s pretty low and I’m happy with it.”
Kelly explains that Soliai is working out at the University of Utah with other Samoan and Polynesian NFL players, including Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (another franchise player), Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha, and Steelers offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu. Soliai’s agent, David Canter, told Kelly that Soliai is in the best shape of his career.
And while some players get upset when they receive the franchise tag, Soliai uses it as motivation. “I’m not really satisfied with what I did last year. I know I could do better,” Soliai told Kelly. “I want to do better every year and show everyone why I got franchised. That’s something that’s really pushing me right now.”
The lure of a long-term deal worth much more than $12 million should be pushing him, too. Given his attitude while operating under the franchise tag, chances are he won’t coast once he gets paid.