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.

Penn State president 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

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Associated Press

Penn State president 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

NEW YORK -- NCAA President Mark Emmert says he is pleased to see how well Penn State's football team has bounced back from the sanctions the program received in 2012 after the Sandusky scandal.

No. 5 Penn State (11-2) is having its best season since Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant of late Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, was arrested in 2011 for sexually abusing boys. The Nittany Lions won their last nine games and the Big Ten title.

"I think it's terrific," said Emmert, who spoke at an intercollegiate athletics forum sponsored by Learfield Communications on Wednesday in Manhattan.

"I think what Penn State went through is an awful situation and it's still playing out sadly. But the football program is still Penn State and they showed it and they did really well. The university has done an amazing job to put in place all of the things their board wanted and our board wanted."

The NCAA went outside its usual process to sanction Penn State in 2012. The school was hit with massive scholarship limitations and a four-year bowl ban, along with fines. The school also agreed to enact dozens of reforms recommended in a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the scandal.

The original scholarship and postseason penalties were eventually rolled back. Emmert said he was pleased the roll back helped Penn State recover more quickly, and that NCAA sanctions are not meant to cripple an athletic program.

"I've always said and always believed that Penn State first and foremost is a great university ... and secondly it's got wonderful sports traditions. How could you not be pleased that they're playing good football again? That's very good stuff," he said.

Emmert covered numerous topics in a 30-minute question-and-answer session, and after he spoke with group of reporters for 15 more minutes.

-- He declined to weigh in on whether the College Football Playoff selection committee made the right decision with the four teams it chose to compete for the national championship, but he did say he would prefer an eight-team playoff that would include automatic bids for the Power Five conference champions.

"I think a conference championship ought to count for something. I think how you determine your champion is up to somebody else," Emmert said. "I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff."

The NCAA has no authority over the College Football Playoff.

"That's why we live in America. Everybody can have an opinion," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany joked, when asked about Emmert's comments. "He doesn't have a vote, though."

-- Emmert said he would like to see the new NCAA football oversight committee better define the purpose of bowl games. There are 40 and some spots are given to teams with sub.-500 records. The NCAA does not run bowl games. It does have a sanctioning process, but mostly it lets conferences decide whether they want to put on games.

"What do we, the membership of intercollegiate athletics, want bowl games to be?" Emmert said. "Are they a 13th game that's an exhibition game? Are they a reward for having won something? We have teams in now that can get into a bowl game having won two or three of their conferences games."

-- The NCAA pulled its championship events out of North Carolina in September because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The decision was later criticized by Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins in an Wall Street Journal op-ed. Jenkins said the NCAA should not be a moral arbiter.

"He and I have chatted a lot about that issue, and obviously I disagree and obviously, more importantly the board of governors disagreed," Emmert said.
The NCAA will choose sites for future championship events in April and part of that is a "fairly complex process," Emmert said, of looking at the local and state laws of potential host locations.

"One of the considerations we have now as we make those decisions, as the sport committees make decisions about where they go, is going to be LGBT rights," he said. "I think and hope and believe, maybe wishfully, that North Carolina will modify their position because citizens want that."

-- Emmert said the Big 12 deciding not to expand was a "good thing for college sports."

"I think the last round was very disruptive. It had a negative impact on so many schools, even personal relationships. It was hard and I'm glad we didn't have to go through that again. Even on a smaller scale," Emmert said.

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have a history of adding players in the Rule 5 draft. The annual event, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling minor-league talent without giving it a shot in the majors, has netted the Phillies players such as Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera over the years.

The year’s Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at the conclusion of the winter meetings, but it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be active. After adding 11 prospects to their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the Phillies are simply out of room. Selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft would first require the Phils to cut a player loose and that did not seem to be the plan as the sun set Wednesday.

While an addition is unlikely, there’s a strong possibility that the Phils will lose a player or two in the draft. Outfielder Andrew Pullin, a 2012 draft pick, is the likeliest to go. He hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016 and a number of teams are buzzing about him. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

If a team rolls the dice on Pullin, it must keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to the Phillies.

Other players who could go include first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, outfielder Carlos Tocci and pitchers Miguel Nunez and Hoby Milner.

All quiet for now
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent Wednesday meeting with agents and representatives from other clubs.

“Nothing is hot at the moment,” he said late in the day.

Klentak has brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, added relievers Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek and traded for outfielder Howie Kendrick this offseason. The biggest remaining issue/question on his plate is whether to add a veteran hitter in a corner outfield spot or keep the pathway open for young players such as Roman Quinn and eventually Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams. 

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside — that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

While it’s uncertain whether the Phils will add a hitter, they most surely will make other roster tweaks as the winter moves on. They are likely to fill their backup catcher’s spot in-house (see story), but could add a utility infielder and more bullpen depth on minor-league contracts.

“I think there will probably be another move or two before we get to Clearwater,” Klentak said. “Who and when remains to be seen.”