There was early speculation that the Falcons would try to restructure Samuel’s deal without adding any years to a contract that was scheduled to run through next season. But Schefter reports that the actual agreement is a three-year deal worth $18.5 million. We don’t know the exact structure of the contract or Samuel’s first-year cap figure. But the Falcons were only $1.7 million below the cap before this deal. Even if they somehow fit Samuel under the cap, they’ll have to restructure some other contracts or release players just to be able to make any other moves.
But the Falcons brought in their first significant player from outside this offseason and that should silence Atlanta fans who have griped about them sitting still. Samuel once was considered perhaps the best cornerback in the league. He’s 31 now and isn’t quite viewed at that level, but he’s still a very good cornerback.
So who starts? Actually, all three.
New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has talked extensively about how the league’s movement toward more passing has made it essential to have three good cornerbacks. They all will get significant playing time. The Falcons had problems when they went to their nickel package last year.
That should no longer be an issue, and there’s another bright side to this move. I’ve watched the Falcons sit back in Cover 2 too much the past few seasons. Nolan’s an aggressive guy. Now that he has three good cornerbacks, I don’t think you’ll see them sitting back.