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10 Players the Atlanta Falcons Shouldn't Bring Back Next Season

Scott CarasikContributor IIDecember 18, 2013

10 Players the Atlanta Falcons Shouldn't Bring Back Next Season

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    Three of these guys shouldn't be Falcons in 2014
    Three of these guys shouldn't be Falcons in 2014Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The NFL is a cold, harsh business. And because of that, the Atlanta Falcons have 10 guys they should leave behind when the 2013 season ends. All of these players are 30 years old and have contracts that would free up space for someone younger and better.

    All of these guys have either been injured, replaced by someone better or are in a contract season and will receive too much or already make too much money to continue being Falcons. If Thomas Dimitroff is wise, he'll let all 10 of the following guys go in the offseason.

RB Jason Snelling, Age 30 in 2014

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Jason Snelling is a long-time Falcon who can play running back, fullback and special teams. Sadly, he turns 30 in 2014 and will likely fall off from his 3.9 yards per carry career average. That's not worth the money that Snelling will draw.

    Atlanta should take this opportunity to upgrade their running back corps. They should bring in someone who can be explosive. Someone who can play special teams and provide what Snelling did. That's tough to find, but Snelling was just a seventh-round pick. So, it can't be that tough.

     

    2014 contract status: $1.733 million to keep, $358,333.34 to cut, saves $1.375 million to cut

RB Steven Jackson, Age 31 in 2014

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Steven Jackson was the biggest free-agent signing the Falcons made in the 2013 offseason. But the Falcons signed a 30-year-old running back to a contract that was probably too much for the production they would get out of him.

    Jackson was supposed to be an upgrade over Michael Turner. But the offensive line fell apart, and Jackson was unable to get healthy enough to make an impact until late in the season. Atlanta could keep him, but his decline will likely continue. It's time for Atlanta to cut their losses with the long-time veteran.

     

    2014 contract status: $4.167 million to keep, $2.333 to cut, saves $1.833 million to cut

OT Sean Locklear, Age 33 in 2014

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Sean Locklear has had a great career. But the only reason why the Falcons even have him on the roster is to take some practice snaps. Locklear at 33 isn't going to be the Locklear who was able to start for years on the Seahawks.

    Locklear is done, and him retiring would make much more sense than Atlanta bringing him back for a swan song. They could also easily replace his minimal impact with an undrafted free agent on the practice squad in 2014. 

     

    2014 contract status: Unrestricted Free Agent

OT Jeremy Trueblood, Age 31 in 2014

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Jeremy Trueblood should have never started a game for the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. But injuries to both Sam Baker and Mike Johnson are what made the former Boston College standout necessary for the Falcons to sign early in the year.

    Even more than that, the Falcons benched Trueblood for rookie undrafted free agent Ryan Schraeder. Schraeder gave Atlanta their best game from right guard this season when he started. If Trueblood can't even provide better depth than Schraeder, he has no business on the roster in 2014.

     

    2014 contract status: Unrestricted Free Agent

DE Osi Umenyiora, Age 33 in 2014

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Osi Umenyiora has been a huge step down from John Abraham. But the Falcons must have known that coming into the season. Losing Kroy Biermann from the pass rush didn't help matters, and Umenyiora has never been the kind of guy who could carry a pass rush.

    It showed. However, his salary in 2014 shows that he would be better playing for someone other than the Falcons. It's never great to lose a player of Umenyiora's caliber, but getting younger and better is the only way the Falcons will wind up back in the NFC Championship Game.

     

    2014 contract status: $4.75 million (plus a potential $3.5 million) to keep, $1.25 million to cut, saves $3.5 million (plus potentially another $3.5 million) to cut

DT/DE Jonathan Babineaux, Age 33 in 2014

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Jonathan Babineaux is the Falcons' longest tenured player outside of Roddy White. While his play hasn't fallen off yet, the Falcons need to make sure that he would be the same player in 2014 that he is now. And is the risk worth the reward.

    The Falcons had a similar situation backfire with John Abraham leading into the 2013 season, but they shouldn't be gun-shy about making a similar move with Babineaux. Let the big man walk. He can be replaced through the draft or simply by bringing back Vance Walker.

     

    2014 contract status: Unrestricted Free Agent

DT Peria Jerry, Age 30 in 2014

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Atlanta's 2009 first-round pick is a bust. While Peria Jerry played through his rookie contract and provided rotational help along the Falcons' defensive line, he never lived up to his potential to become a great pass rusher on the interior.

    The Falcons could bring him back, but they would be wise to let him walk and bring in another option. They could look into the draft for the third man in the defensive tackle rotation, or they could bring in a free-agent option like Linval Joseph.

     

    2014 contract status: Unrestricted Free Agent

LB Omar Gaither, Age 30 in 2014

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    So, the Falcons needed someone who could come in for depth and potentially start if the Falcons couldn't develop any talent at linebacker. Fortunately, Paul Worrilow stepped up and took the starting job. As someone making a minimum salary, Gaither could come back.

    However, with Kroy Biermann, Worrilow, Joplo Bartu, Akeem Dent and Sean Weatherspoon all under contract at linebacker, the Falcons would be better off bringing in someone through the draft or free agency for depth in 2014.

     

    2014 contract status: Unrestricted Free Agent

LB Stephen Nicholas, Age 31 in 2014

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Stephen Nicholas has been replaced. And it happened all the way back in training camp when Kroy Biermann took his starting role as the strong-side linebacker. In fact, Nicholas has started just two games all season, and it was only because injury had him do so.

    For the Falcons to spend $4 million on a special teams player, they would have to be insane. Also, with the lost step that Nicholas has, it'd be ridiculous to think that he will re-gain the starting role over the more athletic Kroy Biermann or Joplo Bartu. If Nicholas comes back, it'd have to be under a veteran minimum contract.

     

    2014 contract status: $4.0 million to keep, $2.0 million to cut, saves $2.0 million to cut

CB Asante Samuel, Age 33 in 2014

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    As much as Asante Samuel is loved by fans, his play has fallen off dramatically in 2013. Even more than that, the Falcons have benched him, as he's played a grand total of two snaps over the past two games. In his place, Falcons second-round pick Robert Alford has played 100 percent of the snaps.

    With a replacement in tow, Samuel turning 33 in 2014 and the Falcons having three competent corners to replace him, Atlanta should just cut the long-time veteran and use the money on other holes on the team like offensive linemen, tight ends or even defensive linemen.

     

    2014 contract status: $6.0 million to keep, $750,000 to cut, saves $5.25 million to cut

     

    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

    Follow @ScottCarasik

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