MARCH 9, 3:51pm: The Falcons made Soliai’s release official, according to the team’s website.
FEBRUARY 21, 6:02pm: Soliai’s agent, David Canter, confirmed the lineman’s impending release. “We couldn’t agree on terms,” Canter told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
FEBRUARY 20, 8:06pm: Atlanta will indeed designate Soliai as a post-June 1 cut, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). As noted below, this means the Falcons will take on $1.4MM in dead money this year, and $2.8MM in 2017.
FEBRUARY 20, 7:35pm: The Falcons will release defensive tackle Paul Soliai on or after the start of the new league year on March 9, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. A report yesterday indicated that Atlanta had approached Soliai’s representatives about accepting a pay cut, and also noted that the veteran lineman was unlikely to do so, preferring to take his chances on the open market.
By waiting until March 9, the Falcons will absorb Soliai’s dead money hit — a charge of $4.2MM — on their 2016 salary cap. If the club opts to designate Soliai as a post-June 1 cut, it will take on dead money totals of $1.4MM in 2016 and and $2.8MM in 2017. Depending on what approach Atlanta takes, the team’s remaining 2016 cap space will fall to somewhere between $23MM and $26MM.
Having just finished the second season of a five-year deal, the 32-year-old Soliai was poised to earn a base salary of $4.5MM, accompanied by a cap figure of $6.9MM. From the Falcons’ perspective, that cap charge was likely excessive, as Soliai’s snap count in Dan Quinn‘s defense had dropped to 357 in 2015 (down from 502 in Mike Smith‘s unit in 2014). Add in the fact that Soliai wasn’t overly effective, grading as just the No. 57 interior defender last season per Pro Football Focus, and it probably makes sense that Atlanta is cutting bait.
Soliai will join a class of free agent defensive tackles that includes Damon Harrison, Nick Fairley, Terrance Knighton, and Haloti Ngata, among others. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Soliai shouldn’t have any trouble finding a roster spot for the upcoming season.
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