Last week, Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff said that the team would soon start making moves.
The moves have started.
Samuel, acquired via trade from the Eagles in 2012, was due to earn a base salary of $3.5 million in 2014, the final year of his contract. A fourth-round pick in 2007, Nicholas was scheduled to earn a base salary of $3 million in 2014.
The departure of Samuel, who originally was drafted by the Patriots when new Falcons assistant G.M. Scott Pioli served as V.P. of player personnel, means that in the last year the team has parted ways with three top cornerbacks — Samuel, Dunta Robinson, and Brent Grimes.
Samuel, who signed a big-money deal with the Eagles in 2008, instantly becomes an unrestricted free agent. Ditto for Nicholas and any other player with four or more years of service who is released at any time between now and the trade deadline.