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Falcons Release Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas

The Falcons have released veteran cornerback Asante Samuel and veteran linebacker Stephen Nicholas.

Kevin C. Cox

The Falcons announced that they have released cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas.

Nicholas was drafted by the Falcons in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. Nicholas started 51 games with the Falcons since being drafted, but in 2013 was relegated to a backup role and saw limited playing time. Nicholas spent just 132 defensive snaps on the field for the Falcons this past season, per Pro Football Focus. He finished the season with 21 solo tackles, 14 assists, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass deflection.

Asante Samuel came to the Falcons via a trade with the Eagles prior to the 2012 season. Samuel struggled some with injuries in 2013, and was on the field for about half of the defensive snaps last season. Samuel finished the 2013 season with one forced fumble and one interception.

Nicholas had some strengths in run defense, but was generally a liability in terms of pass coverage. The Falcons will save $2 million dollars in cap space with this move. The Falcons do not have a ton of depth at linebacker--Sean Weatherspoon, Paul Worrilow, Akeem Dent and Joplo Bartu are currently under contract for 2014--so we can expect the Falcons to address this position via the draft or free agency.

Samuel was a great pick up for a great value at the time, and the Falcons' young cornerbacks, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, surely learned a lot from Samuel during their rookie season, but his age has started to impact Samuel's game and his ability to stay on the field. Cutting Samuel saves the Falcons a whopping $4.5 million. I loved having Samuel in Atlanta, but with the great potential of the Falcons' rookie corners, plus that cap savings, this is pretty clearly a sound decision by Atlanta.

We thank Stephen Nicholas and Asante Samuel for their efforts in Atlanta, and wish them both the best in the future. What do you think about these moves?