The Atlanta Falcons were aggressive in pursuing pending free agents during the league's negotiation period over the weekend, so it came as no surprise that they acted quickly once they were able to officially sign players Tuesday.
Shortly after signing their top target, offensive guard Jon Asamoah from the Kansas City Chiefs, the Falcons announced that they were getting tougher in the trenches by adding nose tackle Paul Soliai. The deal is reportedly for 5 years, $33 million, with $14 million guaranteed.
There were reportedly three teams in the mix for Soliai, but the Falcons were able to make the harder push.
In Atlanta, Soliai will re-join forces with former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who's going to be bringing some 3-4 flair to the Falcons normally traditional defensive scheme.
The 6-foot-4, 340-pound stout run-stuffer will bring some muscle to the Falcons defensive front and perfectly complement any speed rusher that the Falcons add on the open market or in the NFL draft. If Atlanta chooses to remain patient and wait until its top-10 pick in May's draft, two players to keep an eye on would be South Carolina Gamecocks star Jadeveon Clowney and the red-hot prospect Khalil Mack, who played his college football in Buffalo. Grade: A. The Falcons have lost a lot of power on their defensive line over the last five seasons, and Soliai will be able to fit in very well at the nose tackle and nose shade positions. In addition, he's very agile for his size, and will get some pressure on enemy passers -- something this defense has been sorely lacking in the recent past. It's clear that the addition of Scott Pioli to Atlanta's personnel office will have this franchise going for bigger, more athletic players who can do different things and play in multiple gaps. -- Doug Farrar