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]