The Atlanta Falcons were undoubtedly one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams in 2013, finishing 4-12 and tied for last place in the NFC South despite going into the season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
The Falcons still have the makings of a pretty solid core with the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on offense, but the defense, which ranked 27th in the league last season, is clearly in need of an overhaul. So, to start things, the team announced Wednesday that they’ve parted ways with cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas.
Samuel was brought in via trade from the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the 2012 season. In two years in Atlanta, Samuel recorded 63 tackles and intercepted six passes, though just one of those picks came last season. He was due $3.5 million next season, so clearly the team feels they can get that kind of production from a less expensive player. He also just turned 33.
Nicholas was drafted by Atlanta in the fourth round back in 2007, and has been a part-time contributor ever since. He had 21 tackles and a sack in 14 games in 2013.
Both players will instantly become unrestricted free agents.