In a move we all expected, the Falcons have officially released nose tackle Paul Soliai after two seasons in Atlanta.
The Falcons have released NT Paul Soliai, who started 24 games in two seasons with Atlanta pic.twitter.com/7pmNanSpYk— FalconsKelsey (@FalconsKelsey) March 9, 2016
Soliai was the biggest ticket free agent the Falcons signed in 2014, Mike Smith's last year in Atlanta, and it was envisioned that he'd anchor a beefier front that would fare better against the run than the team's abysmal 2013 defense. He was somewhat effective in 2014 and much more effective in 2015 under Dan Quinn, where he was a rock against the run and had flashes as a pass rusher. With a cap hit near $7 million, however, the Falcons have elected to part ways with him, especially with young, more well-rounded defensive tackles like Ra'Shede Hageman and Grady Jarrett waiting in the wings. They'll roll on with those two, Joey Mbu, and possibly Tyson Jackson, if he improbably makes it through this offseason.
If the Falcons designate Soliai as a post-June 1 cut, they'll have $1.4 million in dead money each of the next three years, but save $5.4 million, $5.5 million, and $7 million over that same span, which is some serious cash to play with even for a team that is expected to have plenty in the coming years.
Soliai was overpaid, that much is true, but he was still a fine player for the Falcons over the last two seasons. I'm sure he'll land on his feet somewhere else, and as is our custom, we wish him well.