The news broke early this morning that the Atlanta Falcons had entered into trade discussions with the Philadelphia Eagles for cornerback Asante Samuel. Only a few hours later, it was reported that Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes – who had been given the Franchise tag in March – had finally signed his tender offer. File under: Coincidences that are not.
Grimes had expressed his displeasure with being saddled with the franchise tag, even though a $10 million one-year deal came with it. The message from the Falcons today was clear to Grimes. Go ahead and hold out. Sit at home. We have a contingency, and we’ll be fine. The question now remains if Grimes signing his deal will kill the possibility of a trade for Samuel.
Putting together a trade that will make Philadelphia happy shouldn’t be an issue. They are intent on moving Samuel one way or another. Their main goal is to unload Samuel’s salary from their roster. The Falcons could put together a draft pick package using a pick from this year and next year that would most likely get the deal done.
Salary cap considerations are a completely different story. The Falcons are already dangerously close to the cap, and with Grimes signing his $10 million deal, it will take some restructuring and some creative financial thinking. Samuel – due $9.9 million in 2012, $11.4 million in 2013 – has said he is willing to restructure his contract. If the Falcons could shed some other contract fat, or restructure Grimes and other contracts, it could still possibly work.
Samuel would be a perfect fit into the new scheme that first year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will be installing. Nolan likes to use a lot of defensive backs and to mix up blitz schemes using corners and safeties, and having a third quality corner would eliminate some of the issues the Falcons faced in nickel situations last season.
In an off-season that has seen a real lack of excitement or movement on the part of the Falcons, this would be a breath of fresh air for fans, and would go a long way into instilling some confidence that Atlanta wants to improve beyond just hiring new coordinators.