In two moves that shock no one, the Atlanta Falcons have released cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas today.
Both veterans were due to make hefty salaries, and the Falcons begin their offseason task of shedding under performing, highly paid players with the moves.
Samuel, a former ball-hawking defensive back who the Falcons aquired via trade prior to the 2012 season, had clearly lost a step and found himself buried on the depth chart by the end of the year. He grabbed six interceptions during his two years in Atlanta, but only one of them came last year.
A former fourth round pick who has spent his entire career with the Falcons, Nicholas also found himself a victim of a rising salary and declining performance. A solid contributor who started 51 games for Atlanta over the past seven seasons, he is likely to find work with another team. But, after signing a 5-year, $17.5 million extension prior to the 2011 season, his cap number became too much for the Falcons to carry.
So much this offseason for the Falcons is going to hinge on how they can manage their salary cap. These two moves are a good step in the right direction towards a more fiscally sound squad.