FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons and representatives for defensive tackle Paul Soliai are discussing a possible pay reduction, but those talks are at the very early stages.
Soliai, 32, was signed as a free agent before the 2013 season when Falcons coach Mike Smith and defensive coordiantor 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.
Nothing is close to set with his situation, but the Falcons could save $2.67 million by cutting Soliai.
Soliai is 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 is the third-highest cap number on the team behind quarterback Matt Ryan ($23.7 million) and wide reciever 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.
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 17 tackles 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.
The Falcons started their personnel meetings after returning from San Francisco for the Super Bowl.
Safety William Moore, linebacker Justin Durant, cornerback Travis Howard and fullback Collin Mooney have already been released.
While at the Super Bowl, the Falcons were leaning toward retaining wide receiver Roddy White as they kept pointing out that he was “under contract.”