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Franchise, transition tags out today but not for Dolphins

NFL teams can begin applying franchise and transition tags to their most valued projected unrestricted free agents starting today (Feb. 10) and that is notable to the Dolphins and you only because of my post yesterday about Paul Soliai.

Following that post, several of you e-mailed me suggesting the Dolphins use either the franchise or transition tag on Soliai to keep him locked to the Dolphins in 2011.

Um, not likely.

First, it must be said that franchise and transition numbers have not been officially released by the NFL. Secondly, the NFL players' union has vowed to take the NFL to court over the placing of the tags without a new collective bargaining agreement being in place. Finally, the idea doesn't make much financial sense.

The franchise tag, you must remember, is valued at the average of the top five salaries for players at that position. The transition tag is valued at the average of the top 10 salaries for players at that position.

For a NT/DT which is where Soliai falls, the projections for either tag are staggering. According to the good work of Brian McIntyre at Mac's Football Blog, the projected franchise tag tender in 2011 will be a whopping $12.3 million. The projected transition tag tender will be a whopper junior $9.4 million.

There is no way on earth the Dolphins will guarantee Paul Soliai that amount for one year.

There is no way, by the way, the Dolphins will guarantee any of their unrestricted free agents that kind of money. Thus you can be relatively certain the Miami Dolphins will not use either their franchise or transition tags in 2011 unless the rules or projections change somehow.

Why, you might wonder, would it cost so much to tag a defensive tackle that much in 2011 when the franchise tag number in 2010 was $7 million and the tranisition number was $6.35 million?

Blame Albert Haynesworth, who skewed the averages when his 2010 salary was $24 million.

Simply, the Dolphins aren't in make-Paul-Soliai-instantly-rich mode this offseason. They want to re-sign him. They've made him a couple of offers. None were exceedingly impressive to Soliai. None are said to have been worth even half of what a projected 2011 franchise or transition numbers might be worth.

So why would the team use either tag on him?

Oh, by the way, there is at least one nose tackle in this league worthy of a franchise tag -- Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Ravens. He'll very possibly get tagged and will not be on the market when/if it opens following a resolution of the labor dispute.

What does that mean?

Good news for Soliai because that's one less NT teams will have the opportunity to sign, thus increasing his value. This kind of reminds me of the year the Dolphins had to pay Vernon Carey.

They didn't love the player. But there were really no other choices in free agency and the team wanted to address other issues in the draft. So they paid Carey. And he's been inconsistent since.

I get the feeling that is where we may end up with Soliai.

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