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NFL notebook

Notes: Falcons acquire Asante Samuel

Asante Samuel was willing to restructure his contract to play for the Falcons.

“I wanted to be a Falcon, so we made it work,’’ Samuel said.

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The Falcons gave up only a seventh-round draft pick Wednesday when they acquired the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback from the Eagles.

The Falcons announced the trade after Samuel agreed to restructure his contract to a three-year, $18.5 million deal. His contract with Philadelphia called for him to earn $9.9 million in 2012 and $11.4 million in 2013.

The Falcons were 10-6 last season and 13-3 in 2010, but lost their first playoff game each season.

“The Falcons already have an excellent team and excellent coaches and schemes and talent and all that good stuff,’’ Samuel said. “I’m just going to add to the bunch to get the one common goal.’’

Samuel, the former Patriots standout, noted he’s already had a warm reception from Falcons fans on his Twitter account.

“I’m getting [followers] every second of the minute,’’ he said. “It’s fun. Everybody is excited and pumped up. It feels like I’m a missing link, so we’ll see how this thing goes.’’

The Falcons are left with five picks but no first-round selection in the NFL draft.

Saints decisions soon

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is still doing interviews regarding player punishments that likely will be handed down for the Saints’ pay-for-hits bounty system. Speaking to reporters at an NFL draft event Wednesday, Goodell says he doesn’t expect to issue a decision this week, but he did say: “We’re in the final stages of working on discipline involving the players. We hope to do that very soon and get that behind us.’’ The NFL says as many as 27 Saints players participated . . . Former Bengals linebacker Nate Webster was convicted Wednesday of sex-related charges involving the teenage daughter of a former assistant coach for the Bengals. A jury in Cincinnati found Webster, 34, guilty of four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Packers cut Collins

The Packers released Nick Collins, citing concerns about the veteran safety’s ability to safely continue his career after a significant neck injury. Collins hurt his neck while trying to make a tackle in the Packers’ Sept. 18 victory at Carolina . . . Veteran free agent kicker Neil Rackers signed with the Redskins . . . Their goal finally in sight, the Vikings summoned star power to put extra pressure on state lawmakers nearing decisive votes on public financing for a new pro football stadium. Running back Adrian Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway, and center John Sullivan visited lawmakers and lent aid to a franchise-lobbying team of nine, which is counting heads for an expected House vote as soon as Thursday and guiding the bid for a nearly $1 billion stadium through its final Senate committees . . . Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been selected to appear on the cover of Madden NFL ’13, the popular video game, in a vote by fans . . . The large banner of Peyton Manning has been removed from Lucas Oil Stadium. The move came a day before the Colts will take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 choice in the draft.

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