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]

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."