The Latest on Asante Samuel

The Latest on Asante Samuel

After months of speculation, Asante Samuel could be wearing a new uniform in a matter of days.

CSN's Derrick Gunn reports the Eagles are working on a trade that would send the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in 2013. The buzz originated from Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com on Wednesday morning, though Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean writes today that a swap is not imminent.

Whether it is or not, this is just the latest chapter in a story that has but one logical conclusion: Samuel playing football elsewhere in 2012.

Why Are The Eagles Trying to Trade Samuel Again?
The motivation is at least partially financial. Samuel earns $9.4 million this year, $11.4 in '13, and looming somewhere in the background is a new contract request. The organization has even more money tied up in Nnamdi Asomugha, plus Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Fit has also managed to become a hot-button issue. Samuel strongly prefers playing left corner, but Asomugha and DRC are both better on the outside as well, and we all saw the result of moving those two around to accommodate the other. Meanwhile, coaches have indicated they would like their corners to press -- Asante Samuel don't press.

As cliche as it is to say, this situation may be the very definition of addition by subtraction.

Why Not Trade Nnamdi or DRC?
One thing the trade will not be based on is performance. Despite the reduced interception total in 2011 (4), not only was Samuel the best Eagles cornerback -- by some measures, he was one of the best in the league. For the second consecutive season, Samuel ranked at or near the top in several of the measures favored by the advanced metrics sites like Football Outsiders.

He may have a bad rep in Philly for his aversion to tackling, and to a lesser extent, the perception he is a risk taker, but Samuel can still be considered an elite NFL corner. He had seven picks a year ago, nine in 2010.

It's mathematics though. The remainder of Samuel's contract is not guaranteed; plenty of Asomugha's is. Even if the front office would rather bet on Asante, moving Nnamdi's contract is not feasible, particularly after the subpar season he had. As for Rodgers-Cromartie, he's five years younger than Samuel. When you take into account the question of fit, not to mention the disgruntled-player factor, Samuel is the logical odd man out.

Is Anyone Interested?
Funny, as early as a few days ago, some folks were worried Samuel might be difficult to move because his salary is too high. Funny, for instance, because the Cowboys recently signed Brandon Carr to a five-year deal worth the rough equivalent of $10 million per.

Carr is a nice player. He's young, has good size, ability. He also set a career-high with four interceptions last season. Nobody is confusing his contribution through four seasons with what Asante Samuel does for a defense. And it just so happens, if money is an issue, Samuel's camp reportedly are willing to restructure. Of course, that should not come as so much of a surprise -- restructuring likely means more years.

Of course teams have interest. According to the Inq's Jeff McLane, the Eagles very nearly had a deal with the Detroit Lions last summer. Not much has changed in eight months.

What Is He Worth?
The report states the Titans would send a conditional third-round pick, which sounds about right. Samuel's play probably warrants a bit more, maybe a second, or an additional pick, but his contract and age (31) hurt his value.

McLane's previous report stated last summer's failed trade with the Lions would have sent Samuel to Detroit for two second-day draft picks, but the deal fell apart for "reasons other than draft compensation."

The DeMeco Ryans trade is actually a pretty close template for what to expect. The Eagles sent a fourth-round pick and exchanged thirds for Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowler with a sizable contract. Ryans's value is probably slightly less due to his coming off a serious injury and the position he plays, but similarly, opposing general managers know the Birds need to move Samuel, and that before the draft will be the best time to do it.

Will He Be Missed?
I, for one, always liked what Asante Samuel brings to the table. He's great at what he does, which is daring quarterbacks to throw to his side of the field, then making them pay for their sin. He's also better than advertised in the locker room, and rarely gets beat for big plays.

Yet there is no doubt he's become a distraction while being publicly critical of the front office, and the issue of finding a place for all three of their Pro-Bowl corners to play is not going away. Samuel can still bring it, maybe better than Asomugha or Rodgers-Comartie, but it's not that simple.

Unless Nnamdi returns to shutdown form in 2012, or DRC can replace the high volume of interceptions, the Eagles won't be able to exactly replicate having Samuel on the field. So, yes, they will miss having one of the best corners in the game from that respect. However, those guys are still good in their own right, and the Birds have young players who deserve their shot. Sure they'll miss Asante, but the team is dead set on moving on, with good reason.

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.

Flyers-Islanders 5 things: Still trying to clean up mistakes after bye week

Flyers-Islanders 5 things: Still trying to clean up mistakes after bye week

Flyers (22-19-6) at Islanders (19-17-8)
6 p.m. – CSN/CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBCSports app; Pregame Live begins at 5:30.
 
The struggling Flyers head north Sunday night to battle the Metropolitan Division rival Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
 
Let’s take a closer look at Sunday’s matchup.
 
1. New week, same Flyers
Those hoping the Flyers would be a refreshed, recharged team after the bye week met a harsh reality Saturday night.
 
The Flyers were blown out of the Wells Fargo Center in a 4-1 loss to the Devils that saw the same things continue to haunt the home team — defensive breakdowns and a lack of offense, among other things.
 
It’s no secret this season is quickly slipping away from the Flyers. They’ve lost their hold on the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference to the upstart Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes, Panthers and Devils are breathing right down the Flyers’ backs. To pile on the good news, every other team in the East is within four points of the Flyers, including the last-place Isles, who have 46 points compared to the Flyers’ 50 points.
 
Needless to say, the margin for error is all but gone.
 
This has been said many times recently, but the emphasis still hasn’t waned — if the Flyers want to save this season, it has to start with the next game.
 
2. What’s the mindset?
Michal Neuvirth, who was pulled before the third period of Saturday’s game for “precautionary reasons,” had a striking quote after the loss to the Devils.
 
“When you lose so many games, you lose confidence,” he told reporters.
 
He’s not kidding, and further proof of that came in the loss to the Devils, when the game was tied 1-1. In the second period, Radko Gudas was whistled for a clipping penalty and, boy, was it an awful call. It was nothing more than a hard hip check, aka a solid hockey play. Gudas got the two-minute minor and then Wayne Simmonds received an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting the call, giving Jersey a full two-man advantage.
 
Predictably, the Devils scored to take the lead. Also predictably, the Flyers unraveled after that point.
 
It just seems lately that when something goes wrong for the Flyers, it all goes wrong for the Flyers. And that’s a troubling trend.

3. Changes in Brooklyn
Superstar John Tavares is still there, but beside that, plenty has changed since the Flyers and Islanders last met, a 3-2 Flyers shootout win in November at the Barclays Center.
 
No more Jack Capuano behind the Isles’ bench, as he was recently canned amidst his team’s struggles. Assistant general manager Doug Weight, whom you may remember from his not so distant playing days, is the interim head coach for the Isles.
 
Remember goalie Jaroslav Halak, who started the two teams’ first meeting? It’s no longer his net in Brooklyn, as he’s had a falling out with the club, lost the starting job to Thomas Greiss and was recently put on waivers.
 
And the Isles have responded positively to the changes, as they’ve won three in a row heading into Sunday night’s contest. The last-place moniker is misleading because the Isles are still just five points out of the final wild-card spot and still have tons of talent.
 
4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let’s go with Travis Konecny. Let’s just say the Flyers are in need of an energy jolt these days and the rook has just the type of skillset to provide it. He scored his team’s only goal Saturday against the Devils and isn’t afraid to throw his body around if need be. He also scored against the Isles earlier this season. He’s now up to eight goals and 14 assists on the season.
 
Islanders: It has got to be John Tavares. The guy is an absolute star, but still could fit into the “underrated” or “under the radar” categories just because he plays for the Isles. I mean, check out this goal he scored earlier this year against St. Louis. Holy moly. While you’re at it, get a glimpse of this one he scored against Dallas last week. He’s got 19 goals and 17 assists on the year. In his career against the Flyers, he’s got 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points, the third-most points he’s tallied against any team in the NHL.
 
5. This and that
• In a scheduling quirk, Sunday evening will mark the fourth straight time the Flyers and Islanders will play in Brooklyn. They haven’t met in Philadelphia in over a full calendar year — Jan. 9, 2016, a 4-0 Flyers win

• Sunday is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. They’ll also play Feb. 9 and March 30, both times in South Philly.

• Greiss will start in net for the Isles on Sunday. He’s recorded shutouts in his last two starts. For the season, he's 12-7-2 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average.

• Reinforcements could be on the way Sunday for the Islanders, as forward Cal Clutterbuck (lower-body) and defenseman Johnny Boychuk (upper-body) could be ready to return to the lineup after injuries.

• Sunday’s game will be the second of a back-to-back set for both teams. The Flyers are 6-3-2 this year in such situations.

• The Flyers’ ugly road losing streak is up to nine games. A loss Sunday would make it a not-so-perfect 10.