Remember when the Philadelphia Eagles had a secondary? Wasn’t there a time when quarterbacks would face the Eagles and they might have actually have to worry about throwing an interception?
Anybody? Didn’t think so. This might have been the case many seasons ago. Now, that idea is nothing but in the past.
The Eagles hosted the worst secondary in the NFL a year ago. Despite making the playoffs for the first time since 2010, Philadelphia’s secondary did not get them there. The Eagles surrendered just under 290 yards per game, which was ranked last in the NFL. They also allowed 25 passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks, which was tied for 15th in the league. Heading into this offseason, the Eagles will have some drastic plans to alter this secondary in order to make a leap into one of the league’s elite defenses. Of course, through the NFL Draft, Philadelphia has many young players on their radar to help make this a play-making secondary again. Players like Calvin Pryor and Darqueze Dennard are on the top of the Eagles’ draft board this year. However, the Eagles should look to add some veteran leadership to this defense to help coach these young players and, hopefully, make some impact plays of their own.
Wait, didn’t a player just get cut recently who used to be one of the Eagles’ best cornerbacks? He was known for not just picking off quarterbacks, but returning it for six?
That’s right. Former Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel is on the market, and his next return should be in a Eagles’ uniform.
The former Pro Bowl cornerback spent the last two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after being traded by Philadelphia in 2012. In two years with the Falcons, he had six interceptions and one touchdown. However, Samuel is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. Battled by injuries, he managed just one interception with Atlanta last season. Quarterbacks who threw against him last season also had a quarterback rating of 113.7, which was one of the worst among starting cornerbacks.
After these struggles, it seems like Samuel would be the last person the Eagles should sign, right? Well, if someone looked at Samuel and what he might be able to contribute further, he might be one of the first players the Eagles should target. “Mr. Pick Six” had three Pro Bowl seasons with the Eagles, including 23 interceptions. He had some of his best individual seasons in Philadelphia, and he would be welcomed back by a team that needs help at cornerback. Although Samuel was forced out of town after Philadelphia signed cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, if the market isn’t competitive for him, he should be open to returning to Philadelphia again.
Although he might not be the same playmaker he was during his tenure in Philadelphia, Samuel offers so much more to the Eagles. With a young group in the secondary in Philadelphia, Samuel offers both leadership and veteran experience that the Eagles need for their defense. Also, in a limited role, Samuel could still be productive and keep the injury bug away from him. Not only could this move benefit the Eagles, but it could help Samuel extend his career a few more years.
Samuel’s best years may be behind him, but too many receivers have been behind Eagles’ cornerbacks. If Samuel can stop the bleeding in Philadelphia’s secondary, he should be welcomed back by the Eagles this offseason.
Samuel’s return will mean that Philadelphia is serious about upgrading its secondary in the attempt to become a Super Bowl contender, so be sure to get your 2014 Eagles tickets now.