Soliai's agent, David Canter, said after "positive conversation" with the Falcons this weekend regarding a paycut, the two sides could not agree to terms. Canter said the team plans to release Soliai on March 9. It will be designated a post-June 1 cut, meaning the Falcons will save $5,437,500 against the 2016 cap as opposed to $2,637,500 by just releasing him now.
Soliai came over from the Miami Dolphins and signed a five-year, $32 million deal that included $14 million guaranteed, $7 million in a signing bonus. He was due to make a base salary of $5 million in 2016 with a cap number of $6,837,500, the third-highest on the team behind quarterback Matt Ryan ($23,750,000) and wide receiver Julio Jones ($15,900,000).
Soliai expressed a desire to remain with the Falcons, but the sides could not agree on how steep a paycut he would have to take this season and what the guaranteed money would be in this, the third year of his deal.
The 32-year-old Soliai was signed to stop the run and take on double teams to free up the linebackers to make plays in what was more of a 3-4 hybrid defense under former coach Mike Smith. The attacking 4-3 front implemented by new coach Dan Quinn decreased Soliai's value and led to less playing time for a player typically not on the field in passing situations.
This past season, Soliai played 348 snaps and finished with 22 tackles, three tackles for losses, and five quarterback hits. He showed flashes of his playmaking ability but saw his season cut short by a lingering calf injury that caused him to miss two games and finish the season on injured reserve.
The Falcons liked what they saw from rookie Grady Jarrett in place of Soliai, and Jarrett's versatility and quickness should earn him more playing time moving forward. Quinn made it clear the team is looking to enhance the defensive line this offseason, whether it be via free agency or the draft.
Soliai would mark the second high-price acquisition from the 2014 free agent class to no longer be with the team. The Falcons cut ties with offensive guard Jon Asamoah after agreeing to an injury settlement. Asamoah signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal that included $8 million guaranteed.
The third high-priced member of that class, defensive end Tyson Jackson, remains on the team for now. Jackson, who signed a five-year, $25 million deal that included $11 million guaranteed, is due a base salary of $4,250,000 in 2016 and has a cap number of $6,350,000 -- a lofty figure based on his limited role.
The Falcons are projected to have $27 million in cap space prior to the Soliai transaction or any other moves, according to overthecap.com. They've already cut ties with two defensive starters in linebacker Justin Durant and strong safety William Moore.