Former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai has quickly gone off the market, signing a five-year, $33 million contract to join the Atlanta Falcons.
The contract includes $14.5 million guaranteed and $11 million in total value in the first year of the contract, averaging out to just under $7 million per season.
The Falcons also signed former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson, whose strength, like Soliai’s, is against the run, suggesting that the Falcons have identified their run defense as a glaring weakness.
So, too, has another team, who may also have been interested in getting a big body in at nose tackle this year.
I think it’s safe to that that that contract was probably out of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ price range—or at least outside of the range that they would reasonably consider, regardless of whether or not they could afford it.
The Steelers had the luxury of having one of the best nose tackles to ever play the game for 11 seasons with Casey Hampton, but 2012 was his last season in the league, and even then, he had to take a $3 million pay cut.
The team moved on this year with Steve McLendon at nose tackle, a leaner body less fit to take on and command double teams, but with more agility and maneuverability to penetrate and make plays.
The first year with McLendon at nose tackle came with mixed results. The run defense clearly decline—dramatically—but the issues went far beyond the nose tackle position, given the issue of missed tackles in the secondary and the instability along the linebacking unit, losing James Harrison in the process.
As of this point, the Steelers have yet to be linked to any nose tackle-capable players in free agency. In fact, the only reported interest so far has been among the secondary, at both cornerback and safety.
Another potential candidate that some have talked about, after former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Red Bryant signed elsewhere, was New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who has also just signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
Soliai parted Miami with class:
Please see attached statement from #TeamDEC client Paul Soliai. pic.twitter.com/Dq0M6r5vQr
— David Canter (@davidcanter) March 11, 2014