Falcons release Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas to free up salary-cap space

The Atlanta Falcons are doing some offseason housecleaning.

They have released two former starters on defense, cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas, in an effort to clear up salary-cap space and refresh the talent pool.

Samuel is a four-time Pro Bowler who just turned 33 and whose best days are behind him. With emerging cornerbacks Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant on the roster, the Falcons were more than willing to cut Samuel and save more than $4 million against the 2014 salary cap.

Nicholas became a reserve last season after four years of starting and was deemed expendable after spending his entire seven-year career with the Falcons. He was supplanted by younger linebackers Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow.

Expect the Falcons to target defensive help, especially on their line, in free agency and in the draft. They could be players for one of the top defensive-line free agents that could be set to hit the market. The Falcons also will need reinforcements on the offensive line and at tight end.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next