Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Samuel deal unsurprising, but still questionable

In what many predicted would happen a year ago following the signings of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles have apparently dealt Asante Samuel. Unable to get the second-rounder they wanted last offseason, the Eagles settled for just a seventh-rounder.

This is no surprise. Samuel was due $9.9 million from the Eagles this year, but restructured his deal to accommodate the Falcons.

Few players are worth $9.9 million per season, and with the Eagles already paying Asomugha top dollar and Samuel about to turn 32, something was going to give.

But does this trade really make the Eagles any more likely to win this season? No, obviously.

You can argue that Samuel wasn't a great scheme fit in Jim Washburn's defense, which requires more press man coverage than a zone-oriented corner like Samuel can provide. That's true. But Samuel was still the Eagles' best corner last season, and even at 31 remains perhaps the best zone cover corner in the league.

You can argue that none of the Eagles' top three corners is suited to play in the slot, which is also probably true. But the Falcons already feature Dunta Robinson and franchise-tagged Brent Grimes, neither of whom is suited for slot work, and they still saw fit to take the plunge on Samuel.

You can argue that a draft pick is always a valuable commodity. That's true. But a seventh-rounder doesn't provide much value. The best seventh-round picks of the Reid era have been Kurt Coleman, Jamar Chaney, and probably King Dunlap. Maybe Raheem Brock, though he didn't make an impact as an Eagle. If that's our greatest expected value, it's not much of a return.

You can argue that the Eagles have gained valuable cap space. It's true that they've gained cap space, but unlikely that it will mean much this year. Per, the Eagles had just under $11 million in cap space before the Samuel deal. Without an extremely high draft pick, and with the rookie salary structure provided in the new CBA, it's doubtful the Eagles would have had any trouble signing all their draft picks. The free agent market is fairly bare at this point.

One big caveat to that last argument is if the new cap room allows the Eagles to extend LeSean McCoy this offseason. If that's the case, then dealing Samuel for peanuts was well worth it.

However, the NFL is a passing league. The Eagles' secondary was torched repeatedly last season, and the team plays in a division with Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant. Matt Stafford, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton also lurk on the 2012 schedule.

For a team that was bad in the secondary last season and struggled to create turnovers, it's hard to see how this deal makes the Eagles more likely to win anything this season.

In the brutal world of NFL business, the Samuel trade comes as no surprise. But it's a step in the wrong direction for an Eagles squad that, based on last year's free agent spending spree and the advancing age of Mike Vick, is geared to contend right away.

Stop me if you've heard this before. Seems like we write this story every year.


  1. Samuel had maybe 1 year as an Eagles where he actually showed up and made tackles. Otherwise he got a lot of INTs, made up for them by missing a lot of tackles, and ran his mouth far too much. He was one of the most frustrating and unlikable players the Eagles have employed. No point holding onto a player like that.

  2. Ha, yeah, because "tackles" and "tackling ability" is the best way to gauge a cornerback's performance. Give me a break. To say he got "a lot of INTs" is selling him short. Try "most INTs in the league during his time with Philadelphia."

    Two years ago, before the Eagles brought in the wide nine, Samuel LED THE LEAGUE in yards per attempt against. As in, when quarterbacks threw to the receiver he was covering, they had a lower expected gain on that pass than they did against any other receiver in the league. Remember when he got injured, and we got torched by Devin Hester and Johnny Knox? Samuel was, and possibly still is, considered the best zone cover corner in the entire league.

    It's naive, narrow-minded, and wrong to say he was a poor player simply because he wasn't a great tackler. At corner, I'd much rather have a great cover guy who's a poor tackler than a great tackler who's a poor cover guy. And besides, have you seen DRC try to tackle? Because that's who's replacing Samuel on the outside, and I don't think he's winning any awards for physicality.

  3. Tackling matters when you lack quality safeties - which the Eagles do. Thus, when Samuel went for an INT and missed, we got absolutely torched. An all-or-nothing player like him is certainly exciting, but also terribly frustrating.

  4. That's a valid point, but you can't blame Samuel for the fact that he's had such luminaries as Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Jarrad Page, Quintin Demps, etc. playing behind him. Especially since, like I said, DRC is hardly a tackling machine. A preferable, more productive solution would have been for the Eagles to actually find a decent safety.

  5. If I'm the Eagles, I trade up tonight and get Kuechly or Barron. I can't say I'd be disappointed with a big DT, but that would be a typical Andy move that would pay limited immediate dividends.

  6. I would love Kuechly or Barron. I'd be surprised if they took either, unfortunately, because Andy Reid never takes linebackers in the first round and they just traded for Ryans, and also because they've spent consecutive second-round picks on safeties.

    If they do trade up, it might be for Fletcher Cox. I'd definitely be in favor of that, because he'd probably step in right away, but he's risen up boards so much I don't know if he's worth moving up for in a deep DT class. A lot of experts are mocking Michael Brockers to the Eagles, which I initially hated, but I'm growing more comfortable with, because he's an absolute load against the run and we need that in the interior of our line. As long as we draft a defensive player that isn't Dontari Poe, I'll be happy.