At this point there is one very clear trade prospect: Asante Samuel. We know that he is on his way out but what exactly are these is he worth? Lets look for some precedent, shall we? For the Asante Samuel deal, there isn’t much precedent as good/great corners aren’t typically on the trade market. There are three examples that pop into my head right away when I think of traded cornerbacks:Antonio Cromartie, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Lito Sheppard.
- -Antonio Cromartie got traded for a 2011 3rd round pick that turned into a 2nd round pick because he played so much. At the time of the trade Cromartie was 25, had 15 interceptions in the 3 years prior and had a recent all-pro nomination.
- -Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was part of a package (with a 2nd round pick) that landed the Cardinals their “QB of the future”. DRC was 25 at the time of the trade, had 13 interceptions in the 3 years prior and had a recent pro-bowl nomination.
- -Lito Sheppard was traded to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick in 2010 and a conditional pick that could’ve been as high as a 2nd round pick but turned into a 4th. Lito was 27 at the time of the trade, had 12 interceptions in the 4 years prior to being traded and recent pro-bowl nomination.
Asante Samuel is quite clearly a better player than all of these players. He is a better coverage corner than all of these players as he has been completely shut down the past two years. And he has 39 interceptions in the past six years. It would appear that the Eagles should be expecting a relatively high pick, probably a 3rd round pick due to age and immediate compensation (two of those deals involved future picks). With these deals in mind you can firmly place Asante’s value in the second (if you’re very lucky) to third round range.
Here is a statistical comparison of all four players the year before they were (or potentially) traded:
Over the past three years you’d be hard pressed to find a better corner than Asante Samuel. In 2010 Asante Samuel was 22nd in the NFL in “success rate” against the pass according to Football Outsiders. In 2011 he was first in the NFL and in 2012 he was fifth. At 31 years old you can still make an extremely strong argument that Asante Samuel is still one of the top 5 corners in the game. So he should command a fairly nice return package (at least better than what we got in the Lito and Sheldon deals).
But now you’re probably confused; why are we trading a premier cornerback? Well there are a couple of reasons. The first (and biggest) being that Asante limits our defense, he is primarily a zone corner and because of this Juan Castillo had to run more zone than Nnamdi and DRC were comfortable with. Asante’s presence forces DRC into the slot where he simply doesn’t fit (that’s reason #2 if you’re keeping track). And when Asante was shut down for the year due to injury, DRC played extremely well; in the last 3 games where he was strictly the LCB, Rodgers-Cromartie was only targeted 10 times and he only allowed 3 receptions for 35 yards. This combined with the aforementioned reasons are the on field reasons why Asante is being pushed out the door. In terms of business matters, Asante has a big contract that limits the Eagles future cap flexibility. The Eagles have enough space to handle Asante’s contract at this moment (that’s the key) but in the next two seasons the Eagles need to be able to re-sign LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and I’m sure the Eagles would like to be able to add some other free agents too.
Asante had a great run but his time as an Eagle is up.