Crunching the Numbers
Around the League is taking a look at each team's salary cap situation as we approach the start of training camp:
• Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
• Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
• Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
• Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
• Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
• Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
• Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
• 49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Corey Peters stepped in for oft-injured former first-round pick Peria Jerry to start 15 of 16 games. Peters finished his rookie season with 33 tackles and a sack while logging nearly 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. Peters held onto the starting job last season, playing more than 60 percent of Atlanta's defensive plays and establishing a career-high 3.0 sacks to go along with his first career interception.
Still on his rookie contract, Peters will earn $540,000 in base salary in 2012, the last season he'll be playing for the league minimum. His significant playing time the last two seasons will result in the escalation of his 2013 base salary to nearly double its current value of $615,000.
Potential Camp Casualty: Outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas missed a significant portion of 2011 with a quadriceps injury and picked up just 31 tackles in less than 30 percent of the team's defensive snaps. With the Falcons beefing up their secondary with the trade for Asante Samuel and re-signing of safety Thomas DeCoud, frequent use of nickel packages could result in some trimming at linebacker.
Sean Weatherspoon and the combo of Lofa Tatupu and Akeem Dent are safe, which could put Nicholas and his $1.5 million base salary on the chopping block. Backup defensive tackle Vance Walker is due $1.26 million in base salary on a restricted free agent tender, which may bit too steep for his limited role.
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Contract Issue Looming In 2013: The Falcons were unable to reach a multiyear deal with franchised cornerback Brent Grimes, who will play out the season on a $10.281 million tender that will be fully guaranteed once signed and makes him the highest-paid player on the defense.
A Pro Bowl selection in 2010, Grimes battled knee injuries that cost him four games in a 2011 season in which his interception total dropped from five to one. Grimes, who turns 29 on Thursday, is the youngest of the talented group of cornerbacks that general manager Thomas Dimitroff has assembled and will not be able to sign a multiyear deal until after the regular season.
Left tackle Sam Baker will also be an unrestricted free agent in 2013, but he will have to demonstrate that his back issues are a thing of the past to receive a long-term commitment from the club.
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