The Atlanta Falcons released veteran cornerback Asante Samuel on Wednesday in a cost-savings move.

The Falcons, who went from worst to first in the NFC South this past season, also released and linebacker Stephen Nicholas.

The 33-year-old Samuel was due to receive $4.9 million in salary and bonuses next year. Parting ways with Samuel, who had lost his starting job to rookie Robert Alford, will save the team slightly more than $4 million.

In 11 games, including 10 starts, last season, Samuel had 30 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. Of Samuel's 51 career interceptions, 10 came in 2005 with the New England Patriots and nine in 2009 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Samuel came to the Falcons in a trade with the Eagles in 2012. He now becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Nicholas, fourth-round draft pick in 2007, started 51 games for the Falcons but lost his spot in the linebacker rotation in 2013. His 2014 contract would have been a $3 million salary-cap hit for Atlanta.

Nicholas also becomes an unrestricted free agent.