Carolina Panthers

Free agent DT Paul Soliai visits Panthers over weekend

Free agent Paul Soliai is primarily a run-stuffing defensive tackle who was cut by the Falcons this offseason when he refused a pay cut. .
Free agent Paul Soliai is primarily a run-stuffing defensive tackle who was cut by the Falcons this offseason when he refused a pay cut. . AP

As the free-agency dust began to settle, the Carolina Panthers hosted defensive tackle Paul Soliai on a visit Sunday.

A league source confirmed Soliai, 32, visited Charlotte this weekend. NFL Network was the first to report the visit.

Team sources did not indicate whether a deal was imminent.

The Panthers have their starting defensive tackles in Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, but the Panthers need some depth after cutting Dwan Edwards and with free agent Kyle Love’s future with the team still uncertain.

Soliai is primarily a run-stuffing defensive tackle who was cut by the Falcons this offseason when he refused a pay cut. Soliai, a former second-round pick in 2007 by the Dolphins and a Pro Bowler in 2011, was set to make $5.5 million in salary and bonuses in 2016. He originally signed a five-year, $32 million deal with the Falcons in 2014 but didn’t generate the type of production to merit the deal.

At 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, Soliai isn’t the type that lives in the backfield. He only has 5 1/2 sacks in his NFL career. Instead, he’s stout at the point of attack and clogs the line of scrimmage to stop the run and force teams to be one-dimensional.

Should Soliai join the Panthers, he’d be the second-oldest player on the team behind only Thomas Davis.

Despite his age, Soliai has been a model of health for most of his career. He has played in at least 14 games a season since 2008, his second year in the league.

Adding to the defensive line depth has been one of Carolina’s main areas of focus lately. There’s essentially no depth at the position after Lotulelei and Short, with Chas Alecxih – who was on the practice squad last season – being the current No. 3 defensive tackle on the roster.

With or without Soliai, the Panthers will want to add more to that position. That could come in the next week or two in free agency or in next month’s draft.

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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