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Why is Paul Soliai still unsigned?

First, I want to draw your attention to the fact today is September 11, 2011. It's the 10-year anniversary of the Islamic terrorists' attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93, which eventually went down in Pennsylvania. That day changed the world, and not for the better. Do not forget what happened that day. If we do not forget, perhaps we can keep it from happening again.

The NFL will hold rememberances at its various venues today. Flags are flying at half mast at all NFL stadiums.

On to football:

 I want to ask this simple question: Why is Paul Soliai still unsigned beyond 2011?

The Dolphins recently signed both Nate Garner and Tyrone Culver to one-year extensions that will keep them on the team next year. That's nice, tidy work. But why is the heavy lifting still not done?

Anyone?

There can only be two plausible reasons the Dolphins still haven't gotten a long-term deal done with their franchise player: One, they don't think he can be trusted with a long-term deal ... Or, two, they think Soliai is too expensive and think he'll eventualy lower his price or get someone just as good for less money.

On the first issue, I can sort of understand Miami's worries. As I wrote in my column in today's Miami Herald, Soliai did indeed act something of a fool that first couple of years of his career. I outline his foolishness. But as I also outline in the column, Soliai has taken significant steps and showed significant reasons to trust him now. He is, it seems to me, a changed individual who has grown up.

Do the Dolphins not see that?

The second reason the Dolphins might not have already signed Soliai is they have a significant disagreement with the player as to his worth. Keep in mind Soliai is making over $12 million guaranteed because he signed his franchise tag tender. That's a lot of money. And every penny of it is counting against the Miami salary cap this season.

Maybe that's not a big deal to the team now that player acquisition time is over, but the Dolphins could easily have done a multi-year contract with Soliai, saved themselved at least 30-40 percent off that cap hit this year and used the savings to chase other talent -- like say a tight end, perhaps Zach Miller if they'd been of that mind.

But noooo.

Soliai and the team not only haven't signed that cap space saving new deal, they don't seem to be in the same ballpark. Although details are not available, it seems clear Solia's camp wants to be paid $10-$12 million per season because, well, Soliai is making $12 million this year and if he remains unsigned he's going to get between $18-$20 million in signing bonus alone next year. So he's probably looking at this as averaging $15 million per year.

The Dolphins will never and should never pay Paul Soliai $15 million per season. But $9-$10 million per season? That seems right considering Vince Wilfork got an average of $8 million per year 18 months ago and Buffalo's Kyle Williams pretty much matched that in August.

One truth about NFL player contracts: The prices never go down. Soliai's price isn't going to get cheaper unless something terrible happens to him this season. And everyone should consider the Haloti Ngata contract with Baltimore is looming. That deal will probably blow all the numbers I just mentioned out of the water.

As I mentioned in the column, the sides have until Sept. 20 to get a deal done. That's the deadline. If no deal is done by then, the chances of Soliai heading to free agency next year increase dramatically.

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