Now that free agency has faded and we’re in the brief slow period in late March before the draft hype kicks into uber hyper speed, the season of bartering is upon us. And with it comes rumors, most of which make no sense whatsoever (hey Andy Reid, will you take Donovan McNabb back?). But sometimes there’s a rumor that makes so much sense, executing the trade in question should be done without hesitation.
The problem, of course, is money, which is the root of every problem known to humanity. But in the case of the great Asante Sanuel to Tennessee rumor of 2012, there’s a different kind of price that could be an issue, as the trade value the Eagles have placed on Samuel may be far too steep.
Samuel has been on the trading block intermittently since the moment Philly sent its torpedo through the free agency pool last summer and signed Nnamdi Asomugha just after they’d also acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the Kevin Kolb trade. Samuel was immediately expendable, and his $57.14 million contact also became a heavy salary cap anchor tied to a player who wouldn’t be utilized properly in an overloaded defensive backfield.
The rumors of Samuel’s departure surfaced again this week, and they accelerated last night when Derrick Gunn of CSN Philly reported that a trade could be completed within a few days, with the Eagles receiving a conditional third-round pick. Let me now introduce you to today’s fun vacuum, the Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt.
Wyatt reported earlier this morning that a deal isn’t imminent, and he described the Titans’ interest as “lukewarm at best.” That seems like a rather cool water temperature for a team that had a good, but still very middle of the pack-ish secondary in 2011 (ranked 14th after giving up 226.8 yards per game), and just watched as their top cornerback Cortland Finnegan left as a free agent to join his old coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.
It’s the third-round pick that’s keeping Tennessee’s water tepid.
It’s no secret that Samuel is on the trading block. I suspect the Eagles talked to teams at the owner’s meetings in Florida earlier this week. But the Titans, despite losing cornerback Cortland Finnegan in free agency, won’t give up a conditional third-round pick, as the report suggested.
And despite Samuel’s willingness to re-do his deal, the Titans won’t be willing to pay him a hefty price tag either.
As far as Samuel’s contract is concerned, “hefty” is always a relative term when discussing items of monetary value. He’s certainly not cheap, and he has a $10.5 million cap hit next year, and an $11.4 million base salary in 2013 before becoming a free agent.
Those are sizable figures for most teams, but the Titans entered free agency with roughly $28 million in cap space. Their two major signings were Steve Hutchinson and Kamerion Wimbley, and they’ll make a combined $4.5 million next year. Finnegan’s exit also cleared space.
That leaves plenty of room for Samuel’s cap hit, and the fit is ideal. With Finnegan gone, Tennessee needs another corner to play opposite Jason McCourty, and although Alterraun Verner showed promise last year with his three interceptions, it was only his first full season as a starter. Samuel has been to four Pro Bowls.
But the hesitancy to invest a third-round pick in a 31-year-old cornerback is understandable given the potential value at that position. Last year DeMarco Murray and Stevan Ridley were taken in the third round, and two years ago the third round was rich in talent, with Emmanual Sanders, Eric Decker, Tony Moeaki, Navorro Bowman, and Jimmy Graham coming off the board.
That’s the market Philly has set, and someone will pay their price. It just won’t be the Titans.