After four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Asante Samuel will soon be taking his talents elsewhere. A recent report from Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer indicates that the Eagles are looking to shop Samuel sometime before April's NFL draft.
The move would be advantageous to the Eagles for several reasons. First, it would rid them of the $9.5 million that Samuel is set to make as an Eagle in 2012. It would also be a relatively painless loss for the Eagles considering they have two legitimate starting cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Both of these cornerbacks were high-profile acquisitions in last year's free agency. Samuel reportedly wasn't happy when he heard about this, and he was almost traded before the start of the regular season. And even though he stayed on, both he and the other two superstar cornerbacks did not play particularly well during the Eagles' 8-8 season.
With Samuel gone, the Eagles can move Rodgers-Cromartie to a starting cornerback role, which would be better for him than playing out of the slot like he did last season. With two elite cornerbacks and a draft pick acquired for Samuel, the Eagles could be in a very good place after this trade.
Samuel might be in an even better place, though. In today's pass-happy NFL, cornerbacks are an extremely valuable commodity. And with several elite NFL teams lacking at the cornerback position, Samuel could find himself on a possible Super Bowl contender.
As one of the NFL's top ball-hawking cornerbacks, Samuel could still be pretty valuable to a team. He has had 45 interceptions during his nine seasons in the NFL, including 23 during his four seasons as an Eagle. At 31 years old, he's shown no signs of slowing and could start at cornerback for several more years.
Which of these teams is the best fit for Asante Samuel?
Here's a look at some of those teams that could be a good fit for Samuel.
After missing out on this season's top free agent, the Tennessee Titans are reportedly among the favorites to land Samuel. It's a move that would be great for an upcoming Tennessee team that was very close to making the playoffs last season and needs help at the cornerback position. The Titans' top corner from last season, Cortland Finnegan, has joined the St. Louis Rams in free agency.
Currently the Titans have two young cornerbacks, Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, that would be the starters if the season began today. Both players could benefit by learning from an All-Pro like Samuel. This could also potentially give the Titans three outstanding cornerbacks, which should improve their 14th-ranked pass defense from a season ago.
The main thing that really works against the Titans making this trade is Samuel's price. His base salary of $9.5 million would make him the highest paid player on the Titans' roster.
There's also the issue of his age because at 31 he's not really a young player anymore. He has also had injury problems throughout his career, having completed a 16-game season only three times in his career. However, if the Titans can get past these concerns, Samuel could very well end up as a Titan.
How many good seasons does Samuel have left?
The Vikings may seem like an odd choice for Samuel. Last season, they were among the worst teams in the NFL with a 3-13 record, and there's no reason to believe they'll be significantly improved in 2012. They also had an awful pass defense that only had eight interceptions and gave up 251.2 passing yards a game.
The Vikings have already taken steps to improve the defense by signing Zack Bowman to a four-year deal. Between Bowman and Samuel, the Vikings' pass defense might be good enough to at least have a fighting chance when they face Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
What could prevent the Vikings from doing this is their terrible luck signing older free agents, such as Donovan McNabb and even to some extent Brett Favre. This is a team that is rebuilding right now—many times rebuilding teams want to develop their own talent through the draft rather than sign a splashy free agent. However, with Samuel's pennant for creating turnovers and the desperation they face competing in the brutal NFC North, the Vikings may have no choice but to consider Samuel.
This team shocked people by finding a way to compete in the AFC North and somehow getting to the playoffs. Now the pressure is on the Cincinnati Bengals, who have historically struggled making it to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
One way they can improve their playoff chances is by building up their pass defense. The AFC North is extremely good at pass defense, as even though the Bengals ranked ninth, all three of their division rivals were ranked ahead of them. In 2011, the Bengals had to make an adjustment with the loss of their best cornerback, Leon Hall, for the entire season.
This move would make sense for a variety of reasons. Samuel gets to go to a good pass defense that he could potentially make great, and he also gets to play for a team that could potentially go to the Super Bowl. Also, the Bengals could finally make a splash in free agency and pick up an exciting player to energize their fanbase.
That's likely why this trade will not be made. Owner Mike Brown is notorious for being cheap and the Bengals very rarely spend any money on free agents. It's a shame because the Bengals' defense with Samuel would certainly be one to fear; however, unless the asking price drops considerably, Samuel will probably not become a Bengal.