Asante Samuel Trade Not Nearly Enough to Put Falcons in Contention for NFC Crown

Wes ODonnell@wesodonnellFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 11:  Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Baltimore Ravens during their pre season game on August 11, 2011 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons traded only a seventh-round selection in the 2012 NFL draft to land four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

But it also cost them a reported three-year, $18.5 million contract.

For starters, that is a great deal considering Samuel had roughly $20 million over two years on his old contract. He's led the league in interceptions for two of the last three years and joins a secondary already sporting Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes. Between the three of them, they'll make upwards of $20 million this season.

That is a mighty expensive secondary; a good one, but an expensive one.

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 18: Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles intercepts a pass intended for Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

It won't be nearly enough to put this team over the top, though.

They could overtake the potentially doomed New Orleans Saints in the NFC South, but the thrashing they took at the hands of the reigning champion New York Giants speaks volumes about this team's problems.

Atlanta was in the bottom half of the league in sacks and won only two games outside of domes last season.

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The Falcons hoped their trade up the board for Julio Jones a year ago would help boost their offense, but he struggled to stay healthy, and their issues stopping the pass were too much to overcome.

Samuel will help with the latter immediately, but they desperately need more help rushing the quarterback.

They have only five draft picks to work with and none before pick No. 55.

Michael Turner's job is not safe, as the costly addition of Samuel puts them near the edge of the cap, and their running game was faltering a year ago anyway.

This team has some transformations to make, and it won't have a ton of new blood to help make it happen.

Unless they catch a break and play at home or in a favorable dome matchup, the Falcons haven't changed very much at all.

They still have a long way to go.

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