Man in the middle: Dolphins, Soliai's agent talking extension

The agent for Dolphins free-agent nose tackle Paul Soliaitold the *South Florida Sun-Sentinel* on Tuesday that he and Miami are engaged in active discussions about a new contract, but he predicts the fourth-year pro will hit the open market.

So the Dolphins are weighing whether or not to place a franchise tag on the 6-foot-4, 355-pound Soliai that would place his salary at the average of the top five defensive tackles, which is expected to be $12.5 million. That would be a 25-fold increase over Soliai's $467,000 salary in 2010, when the nose tackle emerged as a run-stopper after three disappointing seasons.

Soliai's agent, David Canter, said Soliai wants a multiyear contract that exceeds the five-year, $20.5 million deal defensive lineman Randy Starks received in 2008. However, with Soliai earning a low base salary this past season, the NFL's 30 percent rule could hamstring negotiations with the Dolphins.

That rule states a player's salary in the upcoming year can't be more than 30 percent greater than the player's salary in 2010. One way around that for the Dolphins would be to pay out a huge signing bonus to Soliai, which could be a risk given he has had one productive year out of four.

"We want to be here. We've said it day in and day out. We want to be here," Canter said. "As long as everything works out and there's a new CBA, we can negotiate in good faith without the limitations of the 30 percent rule.

"We're going to give the Miami Dolphins as fair a shot as they would have ever hoped to get."

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