The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have agreed to terms with guard Jon Asamoah (pronounced AH-suh-MO-uh), defensive end Tyson Jackson, and defensive tackle Paul Soliai (pronounced SO-lee-i).
“We were focused on adding pieces along our offensive and defensive lines and I feel we were able to accomplish that today,” stated Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “We believe that Paul and Tyson will add stoutness and grittiness to our defensive front and will help in the run game. Jon is a solid offensive lineman that has started 41 games during his four-year career that will bring some ruggedness to our offensive front.”
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A Park Forest, IL native, Asamoah played in 42 games, including 37 consecutive starts at Illinois. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior and was selected to the National Football Foundation's 16-man Scholar-Athlete team. Asamoah was awarded the 2010 Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor for his proficiency as both a scholar and as an athlete. He garnered all-state and all-area honors by the Chicago Sun-Times and was a two-time first-team all-conference selection at Rich East High School. Jackson, 6-4, 296 pounds, was originally selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round (third overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Louisiana State University. He has appeared in 74 games with 55 starts and tallied 190 tackles (138 solo), nine sacks, 12 passes defensed, along with 21 quarterback pressures in his five-year NFL career.
In 2013, Jackson helped anchor one of the top scoring defenses in the NFL as the Chiefs allowed just 19.1 points per game. Kansas City ranked tied for fifth in the NFL and tied for the AFC lead in scoring defense while finishing the season tied for sixth with 47 sacks. Last season, Jackson tallied 33 tackles (24 solo) with a career-high four sacks, three passes defensed, and three quarterback pressures.
A native of Edgard, La., Jackson played in 53 games with 39 starts at defensive end for the Tigers. He produced 122 tackles (55 solo), 27.0 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, 33 quarterback pressures, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and 18 passes defensed. Jackson earned second-team All-SEC honors as a senior in 2008 and helped lead the Tigers to their second BCS National Championship as a junior in 2007. He attended West St. John High School where he was the Class 2A Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Rams to a state title during his senior season.
“We are pleased to add Paul, Tyson and Jon to our roster,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “Paul has played for Coach Nolan in Miami and is familiar with our scheme, and Tyson is a good football player that will fit with what we want to do defensively as well. Jon is a physical, experienced offensive lineman that will add a veteran presence to our offensive line.”
Soliai, 6-4, 345 pounds, was originally selected by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Utah. In seven seasons with the Dolphins, he appeared in 99 games with 62 starts while totaling 160 tackles (117 solo) with 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and 12 passes defensed. In 2013, Soliai logged 34 tackles (19 solo) with one sack, one forced fumble, and five passes defensed in 15 games.
Soliai played under Falcons Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan for two seasons in Miami (2010-11) when the Dolphins boasted one of the top defensive units in the NFL. In 2011, Soliai earned his first career Pro Bowl selection as part of a defense that ranked third against the run, allowing 95.6 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. He recorded 27 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for eight yards in losses and two passes defensed that season. In his first season under Nolan in 2010, Soliai logged a career-best 39 tackles (33 solo), two sacks, two passes defensed, and one fumble recovery. He anchored a Dolphins defense that ranked sixth in yards per game (309.3), seventh against the run (100.1), and eighth in passing defense (209.3).
A native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, Soliai was a two-year letterman and all-conference selection at Utah (2005-06) where he played in 24 games with 12 starts and collected 40 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, four passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Prior to his arrival at Utah, he earned JUCO All-America honors at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College as an offensive guard. Soliai attended Nuuuli Poly-Tech High School where he lettered in football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball.