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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Falcons keep LB depth

By Pat Yasinskas

Although keeping right tackle Tyson Clabo and getting a defensive end might be their top priorities, the Atlanta Falcons are working on other things.

Linebacker Stephen Nicholas will stay with the team after agreeing to a five-year deal, according to Adam Schefter. The deal is for five years and could be worth as much as $17.5 million. This one is mildly surprising since I thought there was a chance the Falcons might let Nicholas walk, and he was getting some interest on the open market.

Nicholas lost his starting job last season after the team drafted Sean Weatherspoon, but he remained a valuable backup and special teams player. The Falcons have Curtis Lofton in the middle and Weatherspoon at one outside spot.

I’m assuming they will re-sign veteran Mike Peterson, but keeping Nicholas gives them options. Nicholas could make a return to the starting lineup if Peterson is not re-signed. But I think the ideal scenario is for Peterson to return for at least one more season.

That would give the Falcons a solid and deep group of linebackers.