In Samuel, Eagles have something other teams want

Asante Samuel is a four-time Pro Bowler, but the Eagles are deep at cornerback. Other teams are interested. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Asante Samuel is a four-time Pro Bowler, but the Eagles are deep at cornerback. Other teams are interested. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer (Asante Samuel)
Posted: March 28, 2012

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Asante Samuel trade talk isn't expected to heat up until closer to the April 26 draft, but with several prominent teams in need of a starting cornerback, it's clear there will be a market for the four-time Pro Bowl player.

While Howie Roseman stopped short of saying that Samuel was on the trading block, the Eagles general manager hinted at the NFL owners meetings that the team's depth at the position has cornerback-needy teams sniffing around.

"We [feel] like corner is a position of strength right now," Roseman said Tuesday. "But at the same time, when you talk to teams around the league, you're talking about maybe some positions that you have a strength and maybe that they have a weakness. You try to see if that's a match - whether that's cornerback or anywhere else."

Samuel appears to be the third wheel, with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's man press skills better suited to the Eagles' light-blitzing defensive scheme. There's also the matter of money. Asomugha still is guaranteed a large chunk of money, while Rodgers-Cromartie will make about $7 million less than Samuel next season.

Samuel's $9.5 million base salary appears to be a giant obstacle, but the 31-year-old cornerback would not let a possible restructuring of his contract keep a deal from getting done, a source close to the situation said.

The Eagles took a number of calls last August from teams interested in acquiring Samuel. They even had a trade on the table with the Detroit Lions that fell apart late in negotiations. But Roseman declined to say whether Samuel had received any recent attention.

"We've promised Asante - or really all of our players - that we're going to make sure that we're giving them all the information, and they know about it," Roseman said. "We've been in constant communication with him and have apprised him of things that have been going on."

The Lions still need a corner. The Buccaneers, Chargers, Titans, and Browns are other teams that could be interested in acquiring Samuel.

Roseman, in a wide-ranging interview, touched on a number of subjects, with free agency slowing down and the draft approaching. Other than re-signing guard Evan Mathis, the Eagles have done little in free agency. Their big acquisition was trading for linebacker DeMeco Ryans. But they still have a few holes, mostly behind the starters. They could use depth at running back, safety and linebacker, and on both lines.

"Some of these areas we're hoping are addressed with our young players," Roseman said.

He said that second-year running back Dion Lewis could back up LeSean McCoy.

"There's no question," Roseman said. "This is a heck of a player, really productive in college. . . . Every time he touched the ball [last year] you felt like there was a chance for something really positive to happen."

Former Colts running back Joseph Addai has been mentioned as a possibility because he ran behind offensive line coach Howard Mudd's blocking scheme for several seasons in Indianapolis. The Eagles, though, have nine draft picks and could use a number of late-round selections to address depth.

It appears Mike Kafka will be given every opportunity to be Michael Vick's backup, even with Trent Edwards entering the fold. Some believe this will be the draft in which the Eagles use a high pick on a quarterback so they can start grooming Vick's replacement. Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III are expected to be the top two picks in the draft. Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill is widely considered the next best and could go in the top 10. The Eagles have the 15th overall selection and two second-round picks.

After those three is a group that includes Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Arizona State's Brock Osweiler, Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, San Diego State's Ryan Lindley, Tennessee-Chattanooga's B.J. Coleman, and Arizona's Nick Foles.

Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane

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