NFL DRAFT DIAMONDS

Atlanta Falcons dump two former starters today to clear cap room

The Atlanta Falcons have started the process of changing the roster for next season by releasing veteran cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas.

Both players lost their starting positions as the Falcons struggled to a 4-12 record. Samuel, who was drafted in New England by new Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli, was benched in favor of rookie cornerback Robert Alford. Samuel battled a thigh injury to start the season but simply got beat out in the end. Nicholas, a fourth-round pick of the Falcons in 2007, was the team’s leading tackler in 2012. The emergence of undrafted rookie linebackers Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu made Nicholas dispensable. Nicholas missed two games with a quad injury last season.

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