The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons are reportedly closing in on a deal that would send cornerback Asante Samuel to Atlanta in exchange for a 6th round draft pick in this year’s NFL draft. The Eagles have been actively shopping Samuel for quite some time, and several teams have expressed at least mild interest in the ball hawking corner. Philadelphia had been seeking much more than a 6th round pick, but Samuel’s heft contract was tough for many teams to absorb. Samuel is due $9.9 million in 2013 and $11.4 million in 2013. Reports are that he is reworking that deal to make it more cap friendly for the Falcons.
Last year’s offseason additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha threw a wrench in the Eagles secondary last year, resulting in the coaching staff having difficulty finding enough plays for everyone. That caused them to force Rodgers-Cromartie to often play the nickel spot, where he was completely uncomfortable and ineffective. It appears as if Asante is now the odd man out.
Samuel has been known as a cornerback with a nose for the ball throughout the entirety of his career, but is far from physical, and those ball skills have earned him 4 Pro-Bowl berths in his career. He has 45 interceptions in his career, 5 of which he has returned for touchdowns. In comparison, in that same 9 year career, he has 333 tackles. At 31, he is definitely still capable of contributing immediately to the Falcons.
The Eagles appear content to stick with their franchise cornerback in Asomugha and to promote the young, athletic Rodgers-Cromartie to starting corner in 2012. If the defensive staff allows him to play more press coverage, there is no doubt he will be more effective than he was in 2011. This is clearly the best deal that the Eagles have been able to find for Samuel, otherwise they wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Now we will have to wait and see what Andy Reid does with the additional (reportedly) 6th round pick the Eagles will acquire.
In my opinion, this is a great deal for Philadelphia, especially considering they had basically lost all leverage in negotiations. Teams were aware that the Eagles were probably going to cut Samuel if they couldn’t trade him. Getting something for him is better than letting him walk for nothing. In addition, they clear up about $10 million in cap space this year and $20 million over the next 2 years. That money can be used for much better purposes; hopefully part of it goes to lock LeSean McCoy up long term.