Denver Broncos Would Be Wise to Pursue Asante Samuel
The Denver Broncos have reportedly inquired with the Philadelphia Eagles about the availability of cornerback Asante Samuel, and although the team's interest in the 31-year-old's services apparently cooled considerably after hearing Samuel's sticker price, the Broncos would be wise not to walk off the lot just yet.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post reported Thursday that the Broncos sent out feelers to Philadelphia regarding Samuel, whom the Eagles have made available for trade, but as was the case with the Tennessee Titans last month the Eagles' asking price for the four-time Pro Bowler was apparently too rich for Denver's tastes.
The Broncos no longer believe they can strike a deal, even though trade talks advanced to the stage where the team presented two proposals—one for a late-round draft pick and the other involving a player.
It is well known the Eagles have been trying to deal Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler, before the NFL draft begins Thursday. Several other teams also have been in talks with the Eagles in recent days about Samuel.
I wrote some time ago that the Titans would be unwise to pursue Samuel, but the Broncos and Titans are franchises with two very different situations, and assuming that the same sticking points that existed in regards to Samuel heading to Nashville are the ones holding up a deal with Denver, the Broncos would be wise to attempt to smooth those out and make the play for Samuel if reasonable terms can be worked out.
Unlike the Titans, who are in the process of attempting to build a contender, the future is now in the Mile High City. The Broncos are the defending AFC West champions and just invested nearly $100 million in free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning, which are the acts of a team that wants to win right now, tomorrow be damned.
Samuel's propensity to avoid contact like Rosie O' Donnell avoids vegetables may drive me nuts, but as his 45 career interceptions attest, he remains an excellent cover cornerback, and his acquisition would both upgrade a Denver pass defense that was 18th in the NFL a year ago and take some pressure off the venerable Champ Bailey.
As Klis points out, it may seem a bit curious that the Broncos would even express interest in Samuel given Bailey's presence and the recent acquisition of free agent Tracy Porter, but in today's NFL there's no such thing as having too many quality cornerbacks.
Porter and Bailey have experience at the inside nickel position. And the Broncos believe that after they were torched by passing-rich Green Bay, Detroit and New England last season, having three quality cornerbacks is becoming more of a necessity in today's NFL than a luxury.
Samuel has already expressed a willingness to restructure his contract, set to pay him $21.5 million over the next two years, to facilitate a deal. The biggest roadblock to a deal appears to be the gap between what the Eagles are seeking and what the Broncos are offering in terms of draft pick compensation, as Denver's offer was nowhere near the third-round pick that Philly was originally believed to be after.
The Broncos were offering either their fifth- or sixth-round pick in next week's draft in exchange for Samuel, who had nine interceptions for the Eagles in 2009, seven in 2010 and three last season.
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However, as the draft gets closer that price tag is apt to come down, as it's highly unlikely that the Eagles are going to keep Samuel on the payroll at his current price and getting something for the 10th-year pro beats releasing him outright.
So, while the Broncos may have liked the engine, thought the chassis was nice, and been impressed by the handling only to be scared off by the sticker in the window, the team would be best served to roll up their sleeves and start haggling rather than leave the dealership altogether, as it's very possible that before all is said and done Denver could still be leaving the lot with yet another shiny new acquisition that they hope will aid them in making a run for New Orleans next February.
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