There have been early reports that the Titans had shown interest in the Eagles' ball-hawking cornerback Asante Samuel, who is supposed to be on the trading block. However Jim Wyatt, (a man clearly more in the know than I am) has said that the Titans have told him that they have no interest at this time. Any other time of year I would have complete faith in whatever Mr. Wyatt says, but in late March and early April no one can be trusted.
I am in no way saying that he is telling fibs—I am just saying that the team has put out more smokescreens now than any other time during the year. With that being said, there are two seriously viable scenarios that could be going on.
Scenario #1: The Titans are truly not interested in Asante Samuel at this time.
Samuel has been to the Pro Bowl four out of the last five years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), but his production is starting to dip. He only recorded three interceptions (his lowest since 2005), and he defended only 10 passes (the lowest since his rookie year)—both of which are not terrible considering he has rebounded before, but they certainly aren't the gaudy numbers NFL fans are used to from him.
Another concern is his age and recent injury problems. He is in his ninth year (which makes him 31), and he has only completed a 16-game season three times. Again, he has put up such big numbers in the past, including 45 career interceptions, that teams have given him a pass. If the Titans did make a trade they would have to bring him in for a physical before signing him, which eliminates most of the risk, but they may not feel like he is worth all that time in effort.
Finally, he may be out of Tennessee's price range. He has a base salary of $9.5 million next year alone. That would likely make him the highest paid player on the roster. While that is still cheaper than Finnegan would have been, it is still a risky proposition that the Titans may just want to stay away from.
Scenario #2: The Titans are going to wait out the market and try to drive the price down.
The Titans are historically an organization with a tight wallet. Not only do they not like to spend big on free agents, they also don't like trading picks to other teams considering they mainly build through the draft. However, Bud Adams has recently expressed his desire to win a championship soon, and while I have complete faith in the Titans' talented, young defense, a two-time Super Bowl champion could do wonders for this team's attitude and provide leadership for the young guns.
Additionally, while Samuel has been dinged up throughout his career, he has never missed more than five games in a season. Even if he did have an injury, Verner is a talented young corner that could easily come in and start in his place. In that scenario, Tommie Campbell could also get some playing time in the nickel, which would be valuable for his growth as a player.
Asante Samuel's most important attribute has historically been the art of the interception. He can help the Titan defense, which was tied for 21st in takeaways—he can add his average of five interceptions per year to their defense, and they could move all the way up to 11th. That little bump could make all the difference considering that the Titans played so many close games that were decided by seven points or less.
In the end: The Titans have to weigh Samuel's cap demands and his age versus his explosive play-making and his veteran leadership. If the Titans feel comfortable with that risk, I would be alright giving them a fourth- or fifth-round pick, but unless they give us their fourth or fifth AND Samuel, I think we should keep our third rounder.
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