Asante Samuel wants to be an Eagle. Hes saying it, and hes showing it.
Despite being the focus of off-season trade talks, Samuel reported to the NovaCare Complex Monday morning on the first day that NFL players on teams with returning coaches were allowed to participate in organized informal workouts with their coaches.
The Eagles have been shopping Samuel for nearly a year, but two weeks before the draft, Samuel is still an Eagle.
Samuel said hes obviously heard all the trade reports and rumors but said he doesnt let it bother him.
You have to pay attention, he said in an interview with the Eagles website Monday morning. Any time your name comes up, of course youre going to pay attention. Its my future. Im not going to dwell on it or whatever, but I just know the Eagles main focus is to win a Super Bowl, and I think Im an important part of that, so well see how it goes.
Samuel, 31, has 52 career interceptions, including seven in the postseason sixth-most in NFL history. Hes returned nine INTs for touchdowns, including an NFL-record four in the playoffs.
In four years with the Eagles, Samuel has made three Pro Bowl teams 2008, 2009 and 2010 and has 25 interceptions in 60 games.
Of course, I love it here, Samuel said. This is my home. I've never been to a place that I love more than Philadelphia. So its up to management. I want to be here. Ive always voiced that opinion. Its up to them.
Although the Eagles have shopped Samuel, its clear they dont plan to just give him away. Samuel is under contract for two more years at 8.4 million this year and 10.4 million next year, although his agent has acknowledged that Samuel would be open to restructuring his contract if hes moved.
The Eagles have three starting-caliber corners in Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but none is suited to playing inside, so the Eagles were forced to use DRC in the slot much of this past season with disappointing results.
When Samuel was hurt late in the season and Rodgers-Cromartie played outside, with Joselio Hanson in the slot, the secondary looked a lot better.
But Samuel said part of the problem early in the year wasnt the positions all the corners were playing but just the fact that Asomugha and DRC were new to the team in a season with no minicamps or OTAs. Factor that in with a rookie defensive coordinator and a cornerbacks coach who has since been fired and its no surprise the defense and the secondary in particular struggled so much early in the season.
The more time you spend together the more you get to jell, the better things are, Samuel said. We jumped right into training camp last year. A lot of people didn't know a lot of things. We had two new corners. They had to catch on at a fast pace.