How Low Will They Go: Asante for a Sixth-round Pick?

How Low Will They Go: Asante for a Sixth-round Pick?

It's difficult to know what to make of the latest news on Asante Samuel. A report emerged from Mike Klis of the Denver Post on Thursday night stating the Broncos have jumped into the Samuel sweepstakes, offering the Eagles two trades for the All-Pro cornerback -- one involving an unknown player, the other for a fifth- or sixth-round draft choice.

Is this some kind of sick, tasteless joke?

Sadly, maybe not. The Inquirer's Jeff McLane tweeted this morning the Birds are in fact willing to take a five or even a six, and Klis added the hold-up in negotiations has not been over compensation, but rather over Asante agreeing to a restructured contract. In other words, he's been marked down.

We knew the Eagles were never going to get a return equal to what a playmaker like Samuel is actually worth. He's 31 years old, and set to make $10 million this season, $11.5 million in 2013. Without a restructured deal that includes an extension, he's nothing more than an expensive rental -- albeit a very talented one. Plus, the front office has been shopping Samuel since last summer, and word is out that he no longer fits with what Philly's defense is trying to do, so the Eagles have no leverage.

Still, we hadn't lowered our expectations that far. Samuel is still one of the top corners in the NFL, and while the price tag is high, it's not so outrageous when you look around the league. By comparison, the five-year deal Nnamdi Asomugha signed last year is worth $60 million, an average of $12 mil per season. Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan agreed to five-year, $50 million dollar contracts this offseason with the Cowboys and Rams respectively.

The DeMeco Ryans trade, which went down under similar circumstances, seemed like a good barometer for Samuel's value. The Texans received a fourth-round pick and swapped thirds in exchange for a two-time Pro-Bowl middle linebacker, simply because he was making too much money to play a diminished role in a new defensive scheme. He also had the Achilles injury in 2010.

It's stunning to think Samuel isn't worth at least that much. Though he is older than Ryans, he hasn't suffered any career-threatening injuries that would give teams pause. Cornerback is often a more valuable position than linebacker as well, and while his interception total was down last season, advanced metrics show Samuel is still one of the best at his craft.

However, it's worth noting the Eagles declined Denver's proposals. If they were willing to accept a fifth- or sixth-rounder, why didn't they? Maybe they are not content with a late-round pick after all. Then again, with a little less than a week to go before the draft gets underway, maybe they are simply holding out for more offers, and will eventually accept whatever is on the table.

If the best you could offer me was a fifth-round pick for a cornerback with double-digit interception potential, that is not a trade I could swallow easily. I'm not sure how you make it work with Samuel, Asomugha, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromarite, as somebody is either playing out of position or sitting on the bench, but it seems silly to go along with being fleeced just to make everybody happy.

My guess is some club will eventually ante up with at least a fourth once they can come to terms with Samuel -- which, again, has been rumored to be the biggest stumbling block in completing a deal. It's not everything you could hope for, but moving Samuel is still in the club's best interests. Time to find a fair deal and move on.

>> Broncos expresed interest in Eagles CB Samuel [Denver Post]

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The difference was striking.
 
When Mickey Moniak arrived in Philadelphia to sign his first professional contract six months ago, he was rail-thin and 170 pounds.
 
On Tuesday night, Moniak made a quick visit to the winter meetings to be honored as Baseball America’s high school player of the year for 2016. 
 
He’d added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame.
 
“It’s all muscle,” Moniak said proudly.
 
The Phillies selected Moniak with the first pick in the June draft and signed him for $6.1 million. Just a few months of professional baseball convinced the 18-year-old centerfielder that he needed to get stronger. He recently capped off his first year of pro ball with a three-week stint at the Phillies’ strength and conditioning camp in Clearwater.
 
“It’s something the Phillies wanted me to do and I knew I definitely needed it, too,” Moniak said. “I really enjoyed my first year. I got a taste of what it was like to play baseball for a job and it was a good time.
 
“There were a lot of positives that came out of the first year. I felt like I jumped in there and really competed. I hit well in July. In August, I started to fatigue and I wasn’t prepared for that, being my first season. But it was a good learning experience. I needed to get stronger.”
 
Moniak hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies’ prospect-stacked Gulf Coast League team. That club, loaded with young Latin players and first-year talent from the 2016 draft, went 41-17 and advanced to the finals of the league playoffs before losing to the Cardinals.
 
After the playoffs, many of the players from that club participated in the Florida instructional league. Moniak played sparingly, however, after dealing with some soreness in his right hip. He was checked out by doctors in Philadelphia and there are no more concerns.
 
“It was just tightness,” Moniak said. “Everything is good. I’m 100 percent. They said it was either a growing pain or just tightness. I just have to stretch more.”
 
Moniak is an athletic centerfielder with speed and a good left-side bat. He has been compared favorably to former All-Star Steve Finley.
 
"Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft," Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies head of amateur scouting, said on draft night in June. "He's a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star."

Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California, during his senior season. He impressed a rival scout who saw him play five times during the season.

“The bat is good,” the scout said. “He’s going to hit and hit for average. He’s a good centerfielder. He can run. The question is how many home runs will he hit? If he ends up getting stronger, he could be a corner bat that’s unbelievable. There’s no negative here. It’s a good pick.”
 
Now, Moniak is stronger. He looked sturdy in a dress shirt and tie at the winter meetings Tuesday night. He is eager to see how it all translates on the field in 2017.
 
“I’m excited for the season,” he said. “I’m just going to go to spring training and compete and hopefully end up in (Single A) Lakewood, stay healthy and hopefully have a winning season and win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal and if personal stats come with that, too, that’s great.”

Eagles Injury Update: Eagles get top running back, receiver back at practice

Eagles Injury Update: Eagles get top running back, receiver back at practice

The Eagles will get a boost on Wednesday as they begin to prepare for Washington and a chance to snap a three-game losing streak. 

Their top running back and receiver – Ryan Mathews (knee) and Jordan Matthews (ankle) – will both practice. 

Ryan Mathews, who suffered an MCL sprain against Seattle, has missed the last two weeks. Jordan Matthews, who hurt his ankle against the Packers, missed the Bengals game. It was the first game he had ever missed in his collegiate and NFL career. 

“He’s good to play,” head coach Doug Pederson said about Ryan Mathews. “We’ll find out today, but he’s cleared and ready to go.”

In the two weeks without Mathews in the lineup, the Eagles had their two worst rushing performances of the season: 81 yards against the Packers and 53 against the Bengals. 

Obviously, getting behind in those games skewed those numbers plenty. But it should still be a boost to get Mathews back. 

“We fell behind so it gets us out of that mode a little bit,” Pederson said. “But I like where we’re at. I do lean on that offensive line quit a bit. I do talk to them during the week and say hey this might be the week that we need to rush the ball 30-35 times and they’re up for the challenge, obviously. 

“With the addition of Ryan coming back, it gives us depth and a bigger [running back] back there and hopefully we can get back to running the ball like we did a few weeks ago.” 

With Jordan Matthews out against Cincinnati, undrafted rookie Paul Turner made the most of his opportunity. He caught six passes for 80 yards, while playing in the slot. 

Pederson said that even with Jordan Matthews’ returning, the Eagles will still try to find ways to keep Turner involved. 

The team will practice indoors on Wednesday because the fields at the NovaCare Complex are too saturated thanks to Tuesday's constant rain.