With Free Agency Underway, Eagles Should Act Fast and Trade Samuel

With Free Agency Underway, Eagles Should Act Fast and Trade Samuel

Just taking a gander at EaglesCap.com, which is an excellent site/research tool that projects the franchise's cap situation with a fair degree of accuracy, the Birds have slightly less than $10 million to work with as free agency opens. (The number is probably significantly less after today's Todd Herremans extension.)

Now that's after DeSean Jackson signs his franchise tender for $9.5 million, as is expected soon. However, the team presumably would like to re-sign Evan Mathis, along with a couple of their own guys, and the fans wouldn't mind if management picked up a middle linebacker along the way, maybe even one or two role players. Cash also must be set aside for incoming rookies... oh, and LeSean McCoy might be interested in a slice of the pie as well.

So it seems there may not be enough of less than $10 million to go 'round. The Eagles have a few of areas where they can cut costs though, and the contract that looms largest on the books right now is that of one Asante Samuel.

Samuel has been on the trading block since last summer when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha to a huge deal. However, there wasn't as much urgency to move Samuel last year because is salary was still manageable.

Samuel's base salary balloons to $9.4 million this season though, then $11.4 in 2013, the final year of the deal. Basically, if the Eagles can move him, they would have twice as much cap room.

And while he continues to play at a high level, the truth is the defense has outgrown its need for Samuel. That's not to say they have somebody who can replace his knack for baiting opposing quarterbacks into interceptions, but Nnamdi Asomugha will be under wraps for awhile, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a starter on just about any other club.

The Eagles also have prospects in Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes, as well as proven nickel corner Joselio Hanson.

In fact, while losing a player with Samuel's ability doesn't improve their overall talent by any stretch, at least the coaches wouldn't be required to invent ways to get all three Pro-Bowl corners on the field. DRC fared much better on the outside than in the slot, and all of the experimentation with Asomugha exposed him. Both players would be more comfortable at their traditional positions.

It might be cliche, but this is addition by subtraction 101 -- especially if it frees up money for the front office to improve the team elsewhere.

The only potential hang-up is another team may not be so eager to take on Samuel's salary either. That probably causes a dip in his value, but $9.4 million is not an outrageous sum to pay a premier corner, the type who quarterbacks don't even want to look at. Plus, it helps that hos salaries aren't guaranteed, so if things don't work out, his new team is off the hook in one year.

Ask any fan if they would rather the Eagles hold on to Asante Samuel, or create an additional $10 million in cap space and receive a mid-round draft pick in exchange, and most would tell you it's a no-brainer -- but how quickly they move to part with Samuel could dictate how aggressively the Birds can play this free agent period.

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.