Paul Soliai (96) and Brooks Reed (56). By Curtis Compton
UPDATE: Former Falcons defensive tackle Paul Soliai signed a two-year $7 million contract with the Carolina Panthers on Monday.
EARLIER: Former Falcons defensive tackle Paul Soliai visited with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Soliai was released by the Falcons after refusing to take a pay cut.
Soliai, 32, was signed as a free agent before the 2013 season when Falcons coach Mike Smith and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan thought they could generate a pass rush by collapsing the interior of opposing offensive lines.
Soliai signed a five-year, $32 million contract with $11 million guaranteed on March 11, 2013. Falcons saved $5.4 million by cutting Soliai with the post-June 1 designation.
Soliai was set to make $5 million in base salary in 2016, $4.5 million in 2017 and $6 million in 2018.
Soliai’s 2016 cap number of $6.83 million was the third-highest cap number on the team behind quarterback Matt Ryan ($23.7 million) and wide receiver Julio Jones ($15.9 million).
Soliai, who was a Pro Bowler with the Dolphins in 2011, started 10 of 14 games last season and was a part of the defensive line rotation. He played against the run, while quicker defensive tackles tried to rush the passer.
Last season he played 357 defensive snaps (34 percent), which was the third most amongst the tackles on the team behind Jonathan Babineaux (549, 52.3 percent) and Ra’Shede Hageman (419, 39.9 percent). Grady Jarrett played 267 defensive snaps (25.4 percent) and Joey Mbu played 55 snaps (5.2 percent).
Soliai did not have a sack last season and had just 22 tackles, according to the coaches’ film review, before finishing the season on injured reserve with a calf injury.
The Falcons, who finished last in the league in sacks with 19 and tied for last in the league in rushing touchdowns yielded (20), are trying to add some teeth in the defensive front this offseason.
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2016 NFL COMBINE COVERAGE
ATLANTA FALCONS OFFSEASON STORIES