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NFL Rumors: Philadelphia Eagles Must Keep Asante Samuel for Super Bowl Run

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NFL Rumors: Philadelphia Eagles Must Keep Asante Samuel for Super Bowl Run
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With the 2012 NFL draft closing in fast, the Philadelphia Eagles continue to look for a trading partner in the hopes of dealing veteran cornerback Asante Samuel.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Philadelphia is opening Samuel up to the league:

The Philadelphia Eagles have been shopping former Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel around the league before next week's draft, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

And although this is the current situation between Samuel and the Eagles, it's clear that Asante wants to remain in the City of Brotherly Love.

In an article by Reuben Frank of CSN Philadelphia, Samuel has stated his position about being an Eagle:

“Of course, I love it here,” Samuel said. “This is my home. I've never been to a place that I love more than Philadelphia. So it’s up to management. I want to be here. I’ve always voiced that opinion. It’s up to them.”

Well, the smart move by the Eagles would be to retain Samuel as he's arguably the best cornerback they have.

For starters, the man is only 31 years old, so another three good years are left in him. Then as he gets older, gradually transition him to the nickel/dime back position in zone schemes or even safety in strict passing situations.

Asante still possesses the top speed, catch-up speed, awareness and playmaking ability to shutdown No. 1 receivers and react fast when in zone coverage. He's a four-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro selection with 45 career interceptions (19 the past three seasons) and 139 defended passes.

No, he's not the most physically imposing cornerback against the run, but Samuel has a knack for being around the ball and positioning himself to create numerous turnover opportunities.

Last season, the Eagles ranked No. 10 against the pass by allowing just 212 passing yards per game and the weakness resided in a lack of coverage over the middle.

Yes, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could have produced better against slot receivers, but it was a tough situation considering the lockout and a new defensive coordinator. This season has a more realistic feel as the Eagles closed out 2011 on a four-game win streak and 5-1 in the NFC East.

Lest we forget that in Samuel's first season with the Eagles (2008), Philadelphia made it all the way to the NFC title game. In addition, Asante has played in three Super Bowls (winning two) and has been one of the most consistent performers of his era.

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He rarely gets beat on the deep ball, doesn't give up many yards after the catch and will take away half the field regardless of the coverage scheme.

Losing Samuel for 2012 makes Philadelphia more susceptible in passing situations and to the play action because spread offenses will take advantage of vulnerable zones over the middle.

In a division overloaded by stud pass-rushers and offenses capable of burning up the scoreboard, the Eagles can't afford to lose talent in the secondary. Plus, Philadelphia allowed an average of almost 30 points per game when it lost in 2011.

The absence of Asante's playmaking ability would be greatly missed, especially when backed up inside the red zone and other clutch situations.

 

Follow John Rozum on Twitter.

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