Alex Marvez of FOX Sports cites sources that the Atlanta Falcons have released linebacker Stephen Nicholas and cornerback Asante Samuel today. Marvez’s report was subsequently confirmed by the team. NFL teams were allowed to begin releasing players starting this past Monday, and the release of veterans such as Nicholas and Samuel had long been expected. Nicholas was on the roster bubble since last summer’s training camp, while Samuel’s exit seemed inevitable once the team opted to bench him at the end of the 2013 season.
Per figures at OverTheCap.com, the combined release of both players frees up over $6 million in cap space for the Falcons. Nicholas was set to count $4 million against the Falcons’ 2014 cap, and frees up $2 million in cap savings. Samuel was set to count nearly $5 million against the 2014 cap, and his release frees up roughly $4.2 million.
Nicholas first joined the Falcons as a fourth-round draft pick in 2007. He was a reserve with the team his first two seasons before assuming the starting strong-side linebacker position in 2009. He would maintain that grip on the starting position through the 2012 season, before losing it this past year. For his career, Nicholas appeared in 101 games, starting 50 of them. He also recorded 329 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles over the course of his Falcon career.
Samuel was traded to the Falcons from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 in exchange of a seventh-round draft pick. Samuel started 25 games over the course of two seasons with the Falcons, missing some time due to injury. During that span, he recorded 66 tackles, 6 interceptions and 22 pass deflections. Samuel came to the Falcons after playing four seasons with the Eagles and five seasons with the New England Patriots. Originally a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in 2003, Samuel would earn four Pro Bowl trips and two Super Bowl titles over the course of his 11-year career. His 51 career interceptions currently rank fourth among active NFL players on the all-time list. For his career, Samuel also has 437 tackles, 145 pass deflections, and six pick-sixes.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta Falcons will place defensive tackle Corey Peters and rookie safety Zeke Motta on injured reserve. Peters suffered an Achilles injury in Monday night’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The injury will likely limit Peters during the upcoming offseason where he is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Motta suffered a fracture in his C1 vertebrae during the preceding week’s win over the Washington Redskins. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks as he recovers from his recent surgery.
For the fifth consecutive season the Falcons have placed a player on injured reserve before the season finale. Last year, it was wide receiver Kevin Cone. In the preceding year, it was linebacker Mike Peterson and cornerback Kelvin Hayden. In 2010, safety Schann Schillinger found himself going to injured reserve while guard Harvey Dahl and cornerback Chris Houston were sidelined in 2009. Traditionally the Falcons typically elevate player(s) from the practice squad to the active roster for the season finale.
In the absence of Peters, the Falcons moved Peria Jerry to his traditional nose tackle spot against the 49ers. It will likely lead to increased reps for Travian Robertson in the season finale next week against the Carolina Panthers. Robertson has just played a total of 55 defensive snaps this season in four games played. Motta filled in for an injured Thomas DeCoud at free safety against the Redskins in his lone start of the season. But DeCoud returned this past week against the 49ers. Motta’s injury led to fellow rookie Kemal Ishmael receiving three snaps against the 49ers, his first of the season on defense. That will likely continue against the Panthers with Ishmael being the team’s top backup at both safety spots.
Today, the Atlanta Falcons announced a pair of roster moves, including promoting offensive tackle Terren Jones from their practice squad to the active roster. The team also waived wide receiver Brian Robiskie.
Jones, an undrafted rookie out of Alabama State, initially made the team’s final 53-man active roster, but was released and added to the practice when the team signed Jeremy Trueblood in September prior to the season-opener. Jones had an occasionally up, but mostly down preseason.
Robiskie was added to the roster following the season-ending injury to wide receiver Julio Jones, and after playing in Week 7, he was inactive for the past five games.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons have signed offensive tackle Sean Locklear to fill the void left by Sam Baker, who was placed on injured reserve.
Locklear spent the 2012 season with the New York Giants, where he started 10 games, predominantly at right tackle due to an injury to David Diehl. Locklear’s season ended when he tore ACL at the end of the year. The previous year he was a swing tackle with the Washington Redskins, and started 4 games. Before joining the Redskins in 2011, Locklear spent seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, starting 78 games over six seasons. He was originally a third round pick out of N.C. State in 2003.
The Falcons announced that offensive tackle Sam Baker’s 2013 season is over as he will be placed on injured reserve officially tomorrow. Baker has been ailed by a knee injury throughout this season, causing him to miss five games and most of a sixth. Baker recently returned to the starting lineup in the Falcons Week 9 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but re-aggravated the injury, missing this past Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The injury will require season-ending surgery.
Baker started the season at left tackle after receiving a sizable six-year deal in the off-season. He started the first two games at left tackle and performed poorly. He suffered a foot injury late against the St. Louis Rams in Week 2 and was pulled from the game on the final series. He then missed the Falcons Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins, but returned to start the following week against the New England Patriots. But he again re-aggravated his injury and exited the game in the first half. He then missed the next three games before returning against the Panthers.
In his absence, Lamar Holmes will replace him at left tackle. Holmes had logged starts in Baker’s absence, after being moved from right tackle. The Falcons intend to make a subsequent move this week to replace Baker on the roster.
To make room for the return of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, the Falcons waived linebacker Thomas Howard today. Weatherspoon was placed on short-term injured reserve in September, and is eligible to return to the roster. He began practicing last week for the first time and is slated to return on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Howard was signed by the Falcons three weeks ago when the team released Jamar Chaney. Chaney was one of two signings, alongside Omar Gaither, made when Weatherspoon was first injured. Howard had appeared in two games with the Falcons, playing exclusively on special teams.
The Atlanta Falcons signed free agent linebacker Thomas Howard today to replace linebacker Jamar Chaney, who the team cut. They also signed safety Sean Baker to the practice squad to replace wide receiver Darius Johnson, who was promoted to the active roster on Saturday. Chaney was first signed by the team in September after the injury to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon that landed him on the short-term injured reserve.
Howard went unsigned as a free agent this past summer, as he was recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered at the outset of the 2012 season with the Cincinnati Bengals. Howard first joined the Bengals following the lockout in 2011 after five seasons with the Oakland Raiders, including four as a starter at weakside linebacker. Howard was originally drafted in the second round by the Raiders out of Texas Tech in 2006. For his career, he has started 78 games and recorded 492 tackles, 6 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles. His father, Thomas Howard Sr., played nine seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs (1977-83) and St. Louis Cardinals (1984-85).
Baker is a first-year safety that was originally an undrafted free agent out of Ball State with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. He was cut at the end of camp, but later re-signed at the end of the season to the Bucs’ practice squad. He spent this past summer in Tampa Bay’s training camp before getting released again. He was a four-year starter at Ball State and a two-time All-MAC honoree. He finished his career as the school’s all-time career interception leader with 18. Also added 338 career tackles, 39 pass breakups, 6 forced fumbles, and 3 defensive touchdowns.
The Falcons announced the signings of free agent linebackers Omar Gaither and Jamar Chaney to the roster today. The team also officially announced the previously reported signing of linebacker Chase Thomas to the practice squad, as he will replace fullback Patrick DiMarco, who was promoted to the active roster.
Gaither and Chaney are both former Philadelphia Eagles, having both played for the team in 2010. After that season, Gaither signed with the Carolina Panthers to help replace Thomas Davis at outside linebacker. In 2012, he was signed mid-season by the Oakland Raiders to replace injured middle linebacker Travis Goethel. Over the course of his career, Gaither has started 44 career games at all three linebacker positions, most of which came during his days in Philadelphia. Originally a fifth round draft pick out of Tennessee for the Eagles in 2006, he started the final five games of his rookie season at weakside linebacker. He moved to middle linebacker in 2007, where he started every game and put up a career-high 102 tackles. In 2008, he moved back to the weakside, starting 10 games. Over the next two seasons, he started a total of five games as a reserve middle linebacker behind Stewart Bradley before Chaney’s emergence late in 2010 helped pushed him out the door. Gaither was cut by the Raiders this past summer. Last season with the Raiders, he totaled 14 tackles in seven appearances at middle linebacker.
Chaney was a seventh round pick by the Eagles in 2010. He started the final two games of his rookie season at middle linebacker as a replacement for Bradley. He started every game the following year, logging 92 tackles and 3 interceptions. He moved to weakside linebacker in 2012, where he started five games, mainly as a replacement for an injured Akeem Jordan. He finished the year with 24 tackles. He was cut by the Eagles this past summer.
Both players add much-needed depth at the linebacker position where weakside starter Sean Weatherspoon was placed on short-term injured reserve earlier today. The team also lost defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann for the year due to a torn Achilles, giving the team only four healthy linebackers on their active roster.
DiMarco will help fill the void left by injured fullback Bradie Ewing, who is also out for the year with a separated shoulder. DiMarco started for the Falcons at fullback in the first two preseason contests this summer in replacement of an injured Ewing.
The Falcons announced a few roster moves earlier today
, signing offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood. Trueblood replaces Terren Jones, who was waived by the team. The team also released guard Phillipkeith Manley, who was on the practice squad, with an injury settlement. It is likely that Jones will be replace Manley there if/when he clears waivers tomorrow.
Trueblood originally entered the NFL as a second round pick in 2006 out of Boston College. He would start 61 games at right tackle over the next four seasons. He would start the first six games of the 2010 season, but a knee injury forced him out of the lineup and he would lose the job to James Lee. However he did get one more start at the end of the season when Lee himself was out with injury. Trueblood would regain the starting position in 2011 after re-signing with the Bucs following the lockout, starting 15 games that year. But his subpar play coupled with an early-season ankle injury cost him his starting spot in 2012 where he only appeared in 9 games, his only start coming in the season opener. He was signed by the Washington Redskins this past off-season where he was expected to compete for a backup spot with Tony Pashos and Tom Compton this summer. Compton won and Trueblood was cut this last week. He will likely be considered insurance at right tackle after a shaky preseason for starter Lamar Holmes.
Trueblood also worked briefly at right guard for the Bucs last season when injuries required them to shuffle around their lineup following the injury to Carl Nicks, adding some depth and versatility.
Jones did not have a great preseason and thus his retention on the team’s 53-man roster was a mild surprise. He was dubbed more in line with practice squad talent and likely will get that opportunity moving forward. Manley also came off as less than stellar in the preseason, after spending his rookie season in 2012 on the team’s practice squad and subsequently the roster in the second half of the season. He was surpassed by both Harland Gunn and Jacques McClendon at the backup guard positions this summer. Gunn made the Falcons roster, but McClendon was waived and claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Manley’s injury was not disclosed.
This week Allen and I have our big 2013 NFL Preview Extravaganza. But first we review the cuts made by the Falcons as well as preview the Falcons-Saints game, and our expectations for Week 1. Allen is very optimistic, while I am the opposite. Thereafter, we break down each division in the NFL, looking at potential playoff teams and ultimately make our Super Bowl picks for 2013. In the end, we get into discussion over how to get cheap Super Bowl tickets, underage drinking, and how Pitt’s football team reminds me of former Falcon teams.
2 hours, 13 minutes
Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.
If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt