Breaking Down Whether Or Not The Steelers Would Have Interest In Dolphins Free Agent DT Paul Soliai

With the start of free agency now right around the corner, a few people have asked my thoughts on whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers should go after soon-to-be Miami Dolphins free agent nose tackle Paul Soliai, so here are my thoughts on him.

For starters, if you are in the group that believes starting nose tackle Steve McLendon should be kicked outside to defensive end, then, yes, the Steelers would likely need someone other than Al Woods or Hebron Fangupo to fill that position.

If Soliai were indeed to be a target of the Steelers in free agency, one would think it would be because they want a short-term fix as the big Samoan is already 30 years-old. In addition, because of his weight and being of Samoan decent, there would be a worry about his knees. It is, however, encouraging that Soliai only missed one game in 2013 and that was indeed due to a knee injury. In total, he was on the Dolphins injury report six weeks last season with three of those weeks being the final three of the season due to an ankle injury. That ankle injury could explain his drop off in play against the run in those three games as well.

In total, Soliai played just over 500 snaps at defensive tackle in the Dolphins 4-3 defense last season and that’s right at about the number of snaps the Steelers would want out of him as their base nose tackle, as there is no way they would want him on the field for sub packages outside of goal-line situations.

So, would Soliai be a fit based on his recent play and the fact that he should have good knowledge of the 3-4 nose tackle position? I think most would agree that he would be, but what would it cost to sign him?

For starters, the Miami Herald reported just last week that there was “significant” interest from other teams in Soliai at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Being as he has played in both the 3-4 and 4-3, it’s hard to speculate which teams those were.

In addition to all of the reported recent interest, Soliai is coming off of a two-year, $11.5 million contract that included $5.7 million guaranteed when he signed. So, how much less, if any, would he be willing to take this time around? One would think he would expect at least a two-year, $9.5 million deal this time around with around $4.275 million guaranteed.

If that indeed were to be the price to sign Soliai, such a deal would likely require a $3 million signing bonus and a first-year guaranteed salary of $1.275 million. Those numbers would likely result in a 2014 salary cap charge of $2.775 million and a second-year charge of $6.725 million. The structure of those numbers could of course be massaged by giving a little higher 2014 base and a little lower signing bonus, but I think you probably get the idea. In addition, a three or four year deal, while likely unadvisable, could be an option.

The yearly average of $4.74 million that I used above, however, would be the bottom of his market value, in my opinion, and depending on the true amount of interest in him, he very well could get the same amount of his last contract. So, where do you put his value at and would that value be in the Steelers ballpark?

  • steeltown

    Hmm im not sure.. if we could get him for something like 3yrs $12.5MIL I’d be all for it. He’s stayed pretty healthy the last 3-4 seasons. Then we could truly kick McLendon out to DE

  • srdan

    I am not a firm believer in McClendon yet…but paying 4 mil for a player that doesn’t play 3 downs when you are about to lose a young playmaker doesn’t necessarily make sense either.

    I think this falls in teh category that was discussed where we need to see what happens over the next few weeks. If hood is brought back, it would make this signing a bit obsolete.

  • harding36

    I mentioned Soliai on another post. I like the idea. I wouldn’t break the bank, but I’d give him a deal similar to what McClendon received.

  • SteelersDepot

    Three-years, $7.25 million with $2.575 million guaranteed???? Yeah, I don’t think that one would fly.

  • dkoy85

    A lot of back and forth for me on this one. My bias to McLendon being kicked outside really wants to see this happen because it eliminates the need to draft a DE higher than wanted, and also eliminates the need to resign Hood- Not to mention the thought of Heyward and McLendon on the ends is exciting. At the same time Soliai is getting up there in age but I do agree with steeltown that a 3 year deal is intriguing. A 3 year deal will allow us to draft a developmental NT and allow McLendon to be, IMO, in his natural position with N Williams and Woods to back them up. When the dust settles I’d love to see them sign NT and FS through free agency and focus on CB and WR early and LB depth late. I’m not a McLendon hater at NT, I just think he’d do better at DE- The best players should be on the field, even better the best players should be on the field at their BEST POSITION.

  • Paddy

    Don’t know much about him but I would be concerned about another 30 year old player, they have too many now

  • harding36

    Wow. Didn’t realize McClendon came at such a low cost. You’re right. It will take more for Soliai.

  • Jollyrob68

    RE-sign Al Woods and Sign Terrence Cody

  • SFIC


  • Kenneth Wilt

    I’ll pass. I think we are fine at NT with McLendon, Fangupo, and Woods.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    and that’d mean no more speculation of Nix at 15 overal

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    personally im not okay with a FA signing like Soliai, let alone a 30-years old player… However if Kevin Colbert want to return to the playoff and win, this is a MUST-move. There are NO prospect in the draft that is ready to start, Louis Nix IS not a clog-eater nose tackle. I know it would be a risky move considering the amount to sign a free agency but… We have missed playoff for two years in row… Pittsburgh Steelers to be exactly. You draft offensive weapon with 1st round, load with talents in the rest of draft for the defense, that’s what I would do if I was a GM.

    Knowing Kevin Colbert, he won’t. He just won’t. Shame.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    that’d be very nice, I swear if the Steelers draft a player that I absolutely hate again (I didn’t hate Jarvis Jones as a player, just HATED the pick) I wouldn’t host the draft party again, just… I remember how the night ended last year. Not pretty ha

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    If we want to win again, elevate Lebeau’s defense to such standards, we HAVE to break the bank. Unlikely though, but that’s pretty much the reality for the team’s future and present talents.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Know that moment when Michael Scott in the Office went into the annex and realised Toby had been back to the office? That’s my response to the idea of signing Terrence Cody.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    You are right we are fine, however it’s not “fine” for Lebeau and his system. Players are not at fault, Lebeau is.

  • steelster

    Colbert is a good gm and the only offensive player to draft in the first round that makes sense is eric ebron

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    The FO is in love with Heath Miller, while I hope for the best; Ebron. If he and Matt Evans both was available, I have to say they’d go with Matt Evans.

    Kevin Colbert might be a good GM, but even great GMs are bound to making bad decisions. That’s the business, everybody have their risers and fallers.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I do not think anyone is totally at fault…you can only coach what players you have.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    The point is we are NOT fine at some other positions. We really need DB help in the worst way. That is the focus of the draft to me. I am sure DL knew what he wanted when they signed McLendon to a 3 year deal. In addition, it isn’t like our rookie ILBs were always in the right spot to make plays once the NT took on the blockers.

  • shawn

    wouldn’t be so sure … this is the type of signing i can see them doing … i think would be a good pick up, won’t break the bank and definite upgrade for several years until we draft a NT … Mclendon isn’t bad but Soliai would help us out a lot and moving Mclendon to DE if he fits that would solve our depth problem as well … couple that with the raise in the Cap and i see this as a definite possibility !

  • shawn

    curious to WHY u think they would go with Evans … not ur reasons but what u think the FO reasons would be ?

  • Jazz

    Typically when the Steelers go after FA’s, they still have quite a bit value left in them. If they decide to sign this guy, I think the price tag would have to be much cheaper. I just don’t see the Steelers going after a guy that’s 30yrs of age.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    because Kevin Colbert left out big trend that he would usually go after per draft; we are losing (letting him go, whichever makes more sense to you) Emmanuel Sanders, who else are replacing him? Cotchery who I consider very serviceable and we have Wheaton who can be a very good slot WR, Steelers probably have set their eyes on a different hindsight. Matt Evans are more likely to get more PT than Ebron despite Ebron being much more talented player (who I really love, want him more than any prospects in the draft unfortunately)

    We made same bonehead decision with Jarvis Jones, drafting him when we had Jason Worilds, Heath Miller WAS on PUP list/IR so why didn’t we go with Tyler Eifert? Looking back, I’d rather have Ebron now than Eifert last year but i have hard time trusting FO’s decisions especially with the trend. It says they will go with Matt Evans if he’s there, hopefully not.

    Main reasons would be those; we need a true flanker, want a big receiver, and one that has “more upside”. Matt Evans had some “backyard catching” to his background which I’m sure FO are more interested in. I’d rather go with Moncrief in 2nd than Evans in 1st but hey, tell, me why they wouldn’t? He’s 20… 6’5″ (6’4″ without shoes) and runs sub 4.5. It’d be more of a Mendenhall/Jarvis Jones kind of pick. Looking into luxuries more than the true production.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    and Soliai would allow us to develop a NT, but what’s even more baffling is the fact that game has changed, I don’t get why Lebeau hasn’t, I would be against the move because it IS unnecessary but for Lebeau’s defense to work, Soliai is a must. I wouldn’t say “breaking the bank” as in going 30 millions but I most definitely can see them overpaying his value because he is the only true nose tackle that would make a great fit to Lebeau’s defense in both FA and draft.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    But Soliai is a veteran nose tackle with surplus experience at doing what Lebeau usually want his nose tackle to do- occupy blockers. I don’t think you can find any more experienced nose tackle than him. I agree, we aren’t fine at other positions which is why i’d like for them to address defense via free agency, offense with 1st round (a playmaker) and reload the roster with developmental prospects. That is if they want to contend for the playoff, if not… draft heavy defense up top with developmental prospects late rounds (trade up in 2nd that is what I mean).