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 eaglescap.com, 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.