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Trade Paul Soliai?

The Miami Dolphins used their franchise tag designation on 3-tech DT Randy Starks. At $8.45m against the cap in 2013, the franchise tag for Starks is above his current market value, but made the most economical sense as compared to the Dolphins other Free Agents such Reggie Bush, Jake Long and Sean Smith.

The franchise tag also buys the Dolphins extra time to workout a long term deal with Starks which would lower his cap figure, but an agreement has to be reached by July 15 or the franchise tag figure will be irreversible. This deadline effectively will allow the Dolphins to see how the draft in April plays itself out before making a long term decision. Strategically it was a very sound move by GM Jeff Ireland.

Randy is very good player, he finished in the top 15 at his position for QB pressures in 2012, and his play earned him a Pro Bowl selection as an alternate in 2012. Starks is an unsung hero along the defensivelinewho does not get the glory of sacks but he is a major contributortoCamWake’ssuccess. It is a folly and an imprudent exercise to measure a DTs success bytheirsack count. Starkshad27 total QB pressures in 2012 on 306 pass rushing snaps, which ranked him 14th in pressures per pass rush. (Stats provided by PFF)The question is what happens to Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai now that Starks has been retained? 

Trade Paul Soliai?

What is Soliai’s trade value? I can’t quite put my finger on it, at best maybe a 3rd rounder? When looking at recent DT trades, we see that Brian Price was traded for a 7th, Brodrick Bunkley was traded for a 6th, and the much maligned Albert Haynesworth was traded for a 5th rounder. Soliai has been a better player than those guys who were traded recently and he comes with no character issues.

If the Miami Dolphins can get a 3rd rounder for Soliai, they then have more ammunition to move up into the 2nd round. I would not mind packaging two 3rd rounders and a 7th rounder to move as far up as possible into the 2nd round of the draft. Potentially providing the Dolphins with one 1st rounder, three 2nd rounders, one 3rd rounder and one 4th rounder in the first half of the draft.

Soliai’s got one more year left on his very affordable 2 year contract, but he counts $7.875m against the 2013 cap. Soliai is worth a lot more at the NT position in the 3-4 than in the 4-3. He could be an attractive trade asset for teams transitioning to the 3-4 D or teams looking for a proven upgrade. IND, NO and PHI are all transitioning to a 3-4 Defense. While HOU can use an upgrade at NT and DEN can use an upgrade in their flex packages. Am I the only one who thinks JJ Watt and Soliai side by side makes a lot of sense for Houston?

The caveat for the Dolphins is that I don’t see Soliai being worth more than a 3rd rounder because of the depth at NT available early in the 2013 draft. The quality of those draft prospects at NT will put a limit on Soliai attractiveness and worth. If I can’t get better than a 3rd rounder for Soliai then I keep him. Trading Soliai for a 4th is not attractive to me as it doesn’t particularly help us move up very far into 2nd round when packaged with another 3rd rounder.

Trading Soliai will have ramifications on our run defense but this effect will be marginal in my opinion. The NFL is now a pass dominant league and with the read-option gaining popularity as well, more athletic and versatile interior players such as Odrick and Starks who can defend against both the run and pass effectively may be the better option on the front 4.


What about Jared Odrick?

Odrick can also be traded, and technically he may be worth more than Soliai, largely since he has 2 years left on his contract at a bargain value of approx 2million per year. But it is this same reason why I believe Odrick should not be traded.

If Soliai is not moved during the draft, having Odrick as a backup 3-tech DT behind Randy Starks is certainly not a bad option at 2mil per year, especially if Tony McDaniel is not resigned. It will give the Dolphins one of the best interior combinations in the league, allowing them to be flexible with their fronts by rotating Soliai and Odrick to work in combination with Starks.

The drawback of keeping Soliai, Starks and Odrick is that Jared Odrick’s development will once again be hindered by not being a full time starter at his natural position, a role in which I think he will do very well.


The Nightmare

The absolutely worst case scenario is that the front office sticks with Jared Odrick at RE again in 2013. This will be a disaster and it is the outcome I am most afraid of. Further increasing my fear is what Odrick told the Miami Herald: Odrick commented that if he has to play at Defensive End again, he will lose 20 pounds to become quicker and more explosive in order to be a better pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake.

Though I admire his attitude and willingness to adapt, this is a ludicrous notion! Odrick is player who ran 5.03s 40 yard dash and had a 10 yard split of 1.72, with sub 9ft broad jump at the combine. Playing at 280lbs rather than 300lbs doesn’t suddenly make Odrick an explosive player at DE, the difference will be minimal. I got to believe that Ireland with all the resources available this off-season has other plans besides having Odrick reprise his role at RE.

The Reality

Drafting a pass rushing DE is still critical to the Dolphins regardless of what happens on the interior of the D-Line. Envisioning an interior rotation of Starks, Soliai and Odrick working in combination with the outside pass rushing presence of Wake, Vernon and a top tier rookie pass rusher such as Ezekiel Ansha, Dion Jordan, Datone Jones etc is quite appealing. This will no doubt give the Dolphins one the best and most flexible D-Lines in the league.

With the parts to show both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive fronts without compromise on personnel, a creative defensive coordinator should be very pleased with schematic flexibility from week to week.


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6 Responses to Trade Paul Soliai?

  • RE: @James, @Kevin, @Roe

    I find it really difficult to put my finger on Soliai trade value, a 3rd rounder is the best I think that is conceivable while remaining within the realm of being rational.

    On draft day if a NT needy team misses out on their targets in rounds 1 and 2 there could be an opportunity. But circumstances have to be right as with all trades. I see Soliai’s fair value to be more in the 4th round area, but there maybe a slight premium on draft day if starting caliber Nose Tackles go off the board quickly.

    With Wake, Starks, Soliai, Odrick and a possible top tier pass rusher in draft, GM Jeff Ireland has put our defensive line in a position to be great. We will have tremendous schematic versatility along our defensive front.

    I had my board slanted toward Ezekiel Ansha and Eric Fisher at pick number 12 back in early January, before they both made their meteoric rise. These players will no longer be available at 12 in my estimation.

    With Star Lotulelei, Damontre Moore and Jarvis Jones all experiencing undesirable combines, that was very bad for the Dolphins.

    If Lotulelei’s medical checks out he should be back into the top 10. But for Jarvis Jones and his medical issues together with the fact that Mingo, Jordan and Ansha had great combines, I think he has firmly slid out of the TOP 10. And for us Jarvis is not an option, although I think highly of the young man, I see him more as a stand-up outside linebacker than a hand in the ground DE.

    Damontre Moore I won’t even consider touching him in the second round, he came to the combine unprepared, showed a lack of maturity and work ethic. He’s got the talent but at the NFL level you got to work, I fear that when this guy has money in his pocket he may be a slacker. Tavon Austin benched pressed more than Damontre Moore that’s just unacceptable. Moore also pulled up in the 40 yard dash holding his hamstring which suggest a lack of conditioning. There is a GM that will take him in the first, but he is completely off my board in the first 2 rounds.

    So now we got to expect Jordan, Mingo or Ansha may now rise to assume vacated spots in TOP 10, because Jarvis and Moore are falling out. And if Lotulelei’s heart does not check out, then that’s an issue for us, because it will mean more players we want moving up the draft board and players we don’t need sliding down.

    Ideally you would want players with the upside potential of Ezekiel Ansha and Dion Jordan at 12. But there are other prospects in draft at DE I am confident about as well that will be available later in round 1, the possibility exist of moving down into the 20s and still being able to potentially acquire Datone Jones, Brakevious Mingo, and Corey Lemonier.

    Thinking outside the box as well, I would also look at Margus Hunt as a potential Julius Pepper’s style RE in the 4-3, Hunt like Ansha is a raw talent thats needs refining. But unlike Ansha, I was not enamored with Hunt’s senior bowl week, but Hunt’s potential is still undeniable and attractive.

    Beyond the 1st round, there are prospects like Sam Montgomery and Alex Okafor that interest me in the early 2nd round. While Malliciah Goodman, Tank Carradine, Lavar Edwards and Armonty Bryant hold my interest slightly later in 2nd or early 3rd.

    Addressing the RE position is critical in my view, and having Odrick assume that role next season is not an option.

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  • I don’t like the idea of trading up in this particular draft. There are little or no obvious superstar picks but the overall talent level is deep – except perhaps at QB. Trading down is a more likely scenario. Furthermore the strength of our D is stoping the run so why make that facet weaker? Surely we should improve our secondary to make our D stronger. Trading away a known commodity for the promise/hope of finding a replacement is the sort of lunacy usually ascribed to Jeff Ireland….looks to me like someone had time on their hands but no idea what to write about!

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  • James Lancaster

    Great piece Max….and certainly worth thinking about. I wonder if a 3rd rounder might be more than teams wanna pay?

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  • I would want at least a 2nd or 2 3rd’s. Though their i epth i the raft its never a sure thing with NT’s if they make it in the NFL. Not a lot of Solias aroun

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  • Max, great article. Why not trade Soliai for another proven player.
    The teams you mentioned switching to 3-4 almost always have quality players who simply don’t fit as well. In addition most teams have players with contracts coming up next year whom they could trade before a big payday. We could find another dt 3rd or 4th round that fits without the expense of Soliai. All that said Soliai is one of my favorite players. He has more value to a 3-4 team.

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  • It’s funny that you wrote this. I literally just floated this idea to one of my writers. The Dolphins could look to move Soliai this year, as it’s his last on the contract. See what you can get out of a former Pro Bowl nose tackle.

    I doubt they do it, but it’s an idea and it could be worth exploring.

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