The Eagles signing Nnamdi Asomugha may be the biggest story of free agency—even ahead of the two moves by the Patriots. Philadelphia's secondary is upgraded by adding not only Asomugha but also Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Cardinals.
But there is currently a $9 million problem still on the roster: What should Philadelphia do with Asante Samuel?
Samuel obviously isn't the consistent cover corner Asomugha is. However, Samuel is a better ball hawk in a defense that lacks playmakers.
Asomugha gets a pass because no one in their right mind threw near him when he was with Oakland but expecting double-digit interceptions for Asomugha is unrealistic. He has 11 picks in eight seasons.
The addition of Cromartie from the Kevin Kolb deal sets Philadelphia up with another gambler in the secondary who's likely to replace Samuel. The signing of Asomugha for around $12 million per year is just a cap increase of $3 million when or if the Eagles decide to get rid of Samuel and his $9 million cap number.
The Eagles shouldn't simply release Samuel. He's too good of a player to do that, and Samuel could very well resurface with a star on his helmet in Dallas. Many teams will be interested in Samuel, as 90 percent of the cap must be spent. Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network has theorized that Arizona could look to do more business with Philadelphia and take Samuel to pair with their top pick, Patrick Peterson.
Dallas would certainly be interested, but there's no way Philadelphia makes that deal to a division rival. The Ravens scheme would fit Samuel, but the cap would stop that deal from being done. The release of Nate Clements by San Francisco gashes a wound that was already infected. Detroit has a secondary problem as well. Teams are better off making a trade for Samuel than spending money on lesser caliber players just because 90 percent has to be spent.
Dealing Samuel would mean receiving more than draft picks for the Eagles. The team has already shown they want to get parts to help the team this season. If a starting-caliber player cannot be received in a deal with Samuel, there should be no deal. Samuel's worth is way more than the draft pick compensation that the Eagles would receive in a deal—likely mid-round draft selections.
He'll help the team even more by being the second corner, so he can gamble more frequently. Samuel's deal runs through 2014, so it's not as simple as waiting out the contract and then allowing Cromartie to take the starting position. There is too much demand for cornerbacks. Samuel will find a new home if the Eagles like what they see with Cromartie.