Here’s a sampling of the names that came off the draft board at the tail end of last year’s seventh round: Chris Neild, Curtis Holcomb, Jay Finley. How about 2010? Stevie Brown, Kade Weston, Kavell Conner.
None of those names should ever be mentioned in the same conversation as Asante Samuel. Yet here they are, together at last.
Why? Because due to a pleasant blend (pleasant for Atlanta, at least) of factors that led to Samuel being both very expendable and very expensive in Philadelphia, that’s the going rate for a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback despite the prevalence of the passing game in today’s NFL. In a trade that began brewing early this morning and was finally completed as the afternoon faded into the evening, Samuel is now officially the property of the Atlanta Falcons, with a seventh-round pick going the other way.
As noted earlier, that’s a comically low price for a cornerback who may be aging at 31 years old, but he’s still elite. Samuel joins Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes, and perhaps of equal importance is the leverage Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is now given during negotiations with Grimes.
The 28-year-old signed his franchise tender yesterday, a move undoubtedly motivated by the bubbling Samuel rumors. He’s set to earn a fully guaranteed $10.28 million under the franchise designation for a cornerback, and he’s still seeking the security of a long-term deal. As negotiations continue, Samuel has now given Dimitroff leverage that will last throughout next spring and beyond since he’s signed to a new three-year deal worth $18.5 million. With Samuel aboard and Robinson signed through 2015, Grimes is now aware that if his demands get too steep, he may be missed, but he’s expendable.
He’d be another cap casualty, and Grimes can ask his new teammate how that feels. The Eagles cared little about the return they received for Samuel, because with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie aboard, merely having the $10 million he was due next year erased from the books was a sufficient reward.
Now Philly has stockpiled 10 picks. Sadly their seventh rounder from Atlanta won’t be Mr. Irrelevant, and he won’t be invited to the post-draft pants party.