Trio of corners staying?

gives Eagles three quality cornerbacks.GETTY IMAGES
gives Eagles three quality cornerbacks.GETTY IMAGES (Nnamdi Asomugha)
Posted: July 30, 2011

BETHLEHEM - We didn't have to wait very long to find out Asante Samuel's reaction to the Eagles' blockbuster signing of Nnamdi Asomugha.

Minutes after the news broke early yesterday evening that the Eagles had outbid the Cowboys and Jets for the All-Pro cornerback, Samuel sent out this tweet to his followers: "Alright eagles let's get it going. I'm ready to win."

Unless he's fibbing, that would seem to indicate that he's excited about the prospect of playing with Asomugha and the Eagles' other new cornerback addition, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and doesn't anticipate being traded.

But we'll see. In a pass-happy league where teams line up in three- and four-wide receiver sets nearly 70 percent of the time these days, it's not like the Eagles couldn't use all three of them. Especially when you consider that the Eagles gave up a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes.

"It's always been a priority position for us," general manager Howie Roseman said. "We felt like last year, we were in a situation where we got a little short-handed [at cornerback], and we thought it was a place we wanted to go heavy and have a lot of talent at because you can never have enough cover corners."

Makes perfect sense. With Asomugha, who is regarded as one of the game's top two corners, and the big and speedy Rodgers-Cromartie joining Samuel, whose 36 interceptions over the last five seasons are the most in the NFL, the Eagles have the best cornerback triumvirate in football, hands down.

But Samuel's "personal excused" absence from training camp the last 2 days, along with the fact that the Eagles now have an enormous amount of money invested in one position, along with the whispers that Samuel is looking for a new deal even though he's still got 3 years left on the 6-year, $57 million contract he signed in '08, which made him the highest-paid defensive player in the league at the time, fueled speculation last night that Samuel couldn't soon be traded.

Roseman and head coach Andy Reid did little to end that speculation last night. Asked several times whether they definitely intend to keep all three cornerbacks, they said absolute, positively . . . maybe.

"Right now, we've got three cornerbacks," Reid said. "It reminds me a little of when we had Al [Harris], Troy [Vincent] and Bobby Taylor. So we'll just see how things go here."

When Roseman was pressed about whether the team might be getting ready to trade Samuel, he said, "I think all of those questions are for another day.

"We think we have a great situation right now. We're just excited to add Nnamdi and DRC and we'll go from there."

If the Eagles keep all three cornerbacks, one of them would have to move inside, and none of them really have much experience in that role. It would be folly to move a shutdown corner like Asomugha inside. And Samuel isn't physical enough to play inside. That leaves Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Eagles already have an experienced nickel corner in Joselio Hanson, and another promising corner in 2010 fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley, along with rookie third-rounder Curtis Marsh. So, they could afford to trade Samuel now that they have Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie.

They still have other needs, including middle linebacker, where rookie fourth-rounder Casey Matthews has been taking the bulk of the snaps the first 2 days of camp, and right tackle, where Winston Justice is coming off a subpar season and a knee injury, and King Dunlap still is unproven.

Reid and Roseman got a present the other day for new defensive line coach Jim Washburn when they signed Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin. Maybe they'll do the same for their new offensive line coach, Howard Mudd.

On Thursday, after the Eagles acquired Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona in the Kevin Kolb trade, Roseman said DRC would be the team's starting right corner. Yesterday, after signing Asomugha, he was asked who his starting left corner is right now.

"We'll figure all that out," he said. "Obviously, things have been fluid here. We haven't had a chance to sit down with a depth chart. We had the opportunity to add Nnamdi. We're excited to add Nnamdi. We haven't had a chance to figure out all of the specifics, other than getting him."

That indicates that Samuel expects to be staying in Philadelphia and teaming with Asomugha and the Eagles' other new cornerback addition, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But we'll see.


For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.

Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PDomo.

 

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