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]

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Darryl Reynolds said it hurt. And he wasn’t alone. 

A month ago, Reynolds and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats found out five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman would not be eligible to play in 2016-17.

And despite Spellman — at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds — being the biggest competition cutting into Reynolds’ playing time for his senior year, Reynolds understood the ramifications from losing what was expected to be a key cog in Villanova’s next run for glory.

“We lost a — no pun intended — big piece to the puzzle,” Reynolds said Tuesday at Villanova’s media day. “He went down, but everybody else has realized that we need that much more from everybody else.

“Me and Omari are close, in more ways than on the court. It would’ve been exciting to play with him. But it also provided that much more motivation.”

Motivation because Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad, also understands what the ramifications mean for him, too. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior may arguably be the most important player on the 2016-17 Wildcats. 

For three years, Reynolds has largely taken a backseat, hidden by the shadow of Daniel Ochefu. Now he’s front and center.

“He battled through that,” fellow senior Josh Hart said. “Never complained. Never had any down moments. Brought it every single day. We know he can play at this level.”

Reynolds heads a position in which Villanova was supposed to have depth. Now it has question marks. Reynolds and Spellman were going to be a 1-2 punch inside and a perfect supplement to a bevy of offensive talent around them. The question marks up front include sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter. How quickly the two of them get going will be big. And so, too, will be figuring out where Fordham transfer forward Eric Paschall fits in the rotation.

Coach Jay Wright, who said Reynolds would be a starter, talked more about the other pieces behind Reynolds when asked what he’d be expecting from the senior big man.

“I think part of our challenge is Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter,” Wright said. “Which one of them, if not both of them, can step up and give us the depth that Darryl gave us last year up front when we needed size? Down the stretch in big games against big-time teams, you need that size. We’ve got to develop Tim and Dylan and see how they do with that, see how Eric Paschall can do. Can he play bigger? We definitely have our challenges.”

Those challenges also include replacing leadership roles vacated by Ryan Arcidiacono, Ochefu and a trio of walk-ons.

Insert Reynolds there, too. The Wildcats will start three seniors this year. Hart and Kris Jenkins may do most of the scoring, but they’re pretty reserved off the court and when talking to the media.

“Obviously Ryan (Arcidiacono) was a great leader for us. He was our rock,” Hart said. “When you look at this team, a lot of times we look at [Reynolds]. He calms everybody down. He vocally tries to make sure everybody’s on one accord. Basketball-wise, he’s always been good. You saw the Providence game last year when we needed him to step up and he had, what, like 19 and 11?”

Hart remembers the numbers well, even if he added an extra rebound to the ledger. Reynolds was 9 for 10 from the floor and had two blocks in 36 minutes of action to help the Wildcats earn revenge with a road win after the Friars beat them in Philadelphia two weeks prior.

That game was the last of a three-game stretch in late January into early February when Ochefu was sidelined with a concussion. Reynolds’ minutes over that stretch: 29, 31 and 36, respectively.

That experience, Reynolds says, coupled with the rest of 2015-16 — when he saw an uptick in minutes from his sophomore season’s 5.4 per game to 17.1 per game — will be easy to draw from in 2016-17.

“There’s nothing like getting out there and actually playing,” Reynolds said. “You see a lot from the sidelines. You learn a lot playing spot minutes. You get different things. But just being out there throughout entire games, playing 20-plus minutes, it teaches you things that you could never have learned from another perspective. I learned a lot from those experiences and I think it made me the player that I am in many ways. It’s the same thing with this year. I’m still going to learn a ton in a sense of being out there that much more and not having Daniel. 

“In many ways he taught me a lot. So not having him, not having that voice in my ear, not having that guy to go against in practice, it will make me grow up. 

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said with a smile.