The Atlanta Falcons announced they have cut veterans Asante Samuel and Stephen Nicholas. The move is expected to save approximately $6.5 million in cap space.
Samuel, a two-time Super Bowl champion, suffered a thigh injury early in the 2013 season and never made an impact in the Falcons secondary. By season’s end, rookie Robert Alford had earned the majority of the plays making Samuel expendable for 2014. The eleven year veteran from Central Florida has indicated he hopes to play two to three more seasons.
Nicholas, who led the team in tackles in 2012, received far less defensive snaps in 2013 as the team elected to play undrafted free agent Paul Worrilow over the veteran linebacker. The 30 year old veteran was regarded as one of the most-liked players in the locker room and was a mainstay on the 2008 to 2012 squads which set franchise records for their five consecutive winning seasons.
While both players cap numbers did not appear to equal 2014 productivity, these moves may be the sign of additional moves to come. The team will look to sign Julio Jones to a long-term deal and his 2014 salary of $1.84 million could move to closer to the $10 million range. Of course, this is contingent upon Jones return to 100% health and the only word out of Falcons camp is that Jones is ‘doing well’ and ‘on track’ to return this spring.
A question among many Falcon fans is will the team entertain releasing long-time Dirty Bird Roddy White after his worst statistical season since 2007 and the emergence of Harry Douglas? For diehard red and black fans, it will be tough to imagine a 2014 squad without the wide receiver. White has said publicly in the past that he wants to be a Falcon for life but the business of the NFL does not always cooperate with a player’s wishes. Or will the Steven Jackson experiment end after just one largely unsuccessful season? Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has hinted that Jackson will be a significant part of their offense in 2014 and with a commitment to improving the offensive line, the team may favor the workhorse running back.