The Eagles haven't had an impressive history in recent off-seasons of pursuing high-caliber free agents. The whole T.O. saga didn't turn out too well, as we all know.
Jevon Kearse was an $82 million flop, as he failed to give the team the All-Pro defensive end the Eagles have so desperately needed. And recent attempts to sign big-name wide receivers, such as Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, and Chad Johnson have been unsuccessful as well.
So it's exciting that newly acquired Asante Samuel has been a playmaker in Philly.
A member of two Super Bowl championship teams with the Patriots, Samuel was a big reason for the Patriots' undefeated regular season last year. He picked off six passes in the regular season and one in the playoffs, earning selections to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams.
He signed a six-year, $57 million contract with the Eagles in the offseason, prompting Andy Reid to say the following about Samuel: “When you have the opportunity to get the best one in the business, then you need to look at that... Asante is a great player and he'll make great plays for us.”
Samuel made a big splash early for the Eagles, knocking down three passes in a 38-3 win in his Eagles' debut. He intercepted his first pass the following week on Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys.
The following week, he did even better, as he recorded five tackles, an interception, and two passes defensed in a 15-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With three picks just past the midway point of the season, Samuel has proven to be a great addition to the team. He is a tremendous cover corner and a clutch defender. Since his rookie season with the Patriots, his teams are 19-1 when he intercepts a pass.
Samuel's presence has boosted an Eagles secondary that ranked 18th in the NFL in pass defense (215.6 YPG) in '07 to sixth (190.4) this season. Meanwhile, the Patriots have dropped from sixth in '07 (190.1) to 15th (201.0) this season.
With a great cover corner like Samuel in the secondary, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has been able to call more blitzes this season, and the Eagles have an improved pass rush as well.
After registering 37 sacks in all of 2007, the Eagles already have 28 in '08, a total that projects to over 50 for the year.
With Samuel's stellar play in the secondary and a stronger pass rush up front, the Eagles are 5-4 and in the thick of the playoff hunt in the competitive NFC.
And after that disappointing loss to the Giants in last year's Super Bowl, Samuel wants nothing more than to take his new team to the Super Bowl and add a third championship ring to his collection.