Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets that the Falcons have reached an agreement with free agent linebacker Stephen Nicholas, agreeing to a five-year deal. As part of the new labor agreement, teams have been allowed to contact and negotiate with free agents since Tuesday, but transactions and agreements made during this time cannot become official until Friday evening, when players will be allowed to sign after 6 pm. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.
Nicholas was a free agent for the Falcons and has been a starter for the team the past two seasons. He began last season as the reserve strongside linebacker to Sean Weatherspoon, but due to a midseason injury to Weatherspoon took over the starting job. He wound up starting 11 games and had 72 tackles. He was expecting to test the market for the first time, with rumors linking him to Detroit and New York with the Giants, but ultimately decided that it was best staying in Atlanta.
Nicholas decision to stay may also impact whether the Falcons try to bring back Mike Peterson, who is also a free agent. It would seem likely with this long-term commitment to Nicholas, that he will likely man the strongside position, allowing Weatherspoon to move to his more natural weakside position, the same position that Peterson has started at the past two seasons.
UPDATE: Zach Klein of WSB-TV Atlanta cites NFL sources that indicate Nicholas deal is worth $17.5 million over five years.