Could Stephen Nicholas be a Falcons Salary Cap Casualty?

September 18, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas (54) celebrates after recovering a Philadelphia Eagles fumble in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

This question was posed on NFL.com, and I think it bears at least some thinking about. The facts that they report are based in fact; Nicholas did miss about a third of the season with a quadriceps injury, and even when he played in a game, he played sparingly. He only played 30% of the Falcons defensive snaps. Luckily the Falcons had veteran Mike Peterson to take his place. Peterson was very instinctual and savvy, but not quite the athletic or the play-maker that Nicholas can be  when healthy. The key here is that writer Brian McIntyre thinks the Falcons will cut Nicholas to save cap room, especially when it’s not likely that they will have three linebackers on the field very often in this pass-happy league.

I think that perception is off base. Yeah, $1.2 Million is a lot for someone who isn’t even the impact player at the linebacker level or a MLB, but he is important due to his very good athleticism. All summer we have been talking about how Sean Weatherspoon will take over defensive play-calling duties on third downs. That means that there will be at least one, and probably two linebackers in dime and nickel defenses respectively. The one constant would be Weatherspoon, but on a passing down with a Nickel defense, I would have Weatherspoon and Nicholas on the field together. Sure, he’s taking up some salary cap space, but the Falcons still have over $2 Million in cap space. I would argue that Vance Walker, another player McIntyre lists as a potential salary cap casualty has a better chance of being cut, as his impact is lesser than Nicholas’. I disagree with McIntyre completely, but that doesn’t make either of us right.

Topics: Atlanta Falcons, Mike Peterson, Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas

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