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Eagles have Samuel on the trading block

Despite a few potential obstacles, the Eagles will try to trade Asante Samuel before April's draft. The cornerback is 31 and due to earn $9.5 million next season, so it's unlikely they'll get anything close to what they would have had last August in a near-complete swap with the Detroit Lions.

Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel is 31 and due to earn $9.5 million next season. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel is 31 and due to earn $9.5 million next season. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

Despite a few potential obstacles, the Eagles will try to trade Asante Samuel before April's draft.

The cornerback is 31 and due to earn $9.5 million next season, so it's unlikely they'll get anything close to what they would have had last August in a near-complete swap with the Detroit Lions.

But don't underestimate the Eagles' negotiating powers. It's one of the front office's strongest traits, although the bartering has had to camouflage systemic failure in the evaluation of draft prospects on defense.

For the third straight year, the Four Horsemen - Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid, Joe Banner, and Howie Roseman - arrive at the NFL owners meetings with a stallion to trade.

In 2010, the brain trust showed up in Orlando with a unified stance on the availability of the team's three starting-caliber quarterbacks. The Eagles were "entertaining offers" for Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and Michael Vick, but the underlying message to interested teams was clear: "Give us your best offer for McNabb."

The following year, it was Kolb's turn to be on the block. Since the Eagles didn't have to worry about Kolb's feelings as they did with McNabb - Kolb wanted out - their objective was to increase bids for the quarterback.

So the party line from Reid, Banner, and Roseman was that there was "a lot of interest in Kolb," even though the lockout forbade business at the time.

The Eagles won't likely publicize their interest in dealing Samuel, who blasted the front office last October when rumors surfaced that he was on the market before the trade deadline. The four-time Pro Bowl corner knew he was dangling as far back as training camp, however.

In fact, he was part of the process after the Eagles and Lions agreed to an exchange that would have netted the Birds two second-day draft picks. That deal, though, fell apart for reasons other than draft compensation.

The Eagles had some leverage then because they had planned to start Nnamdi Asomugha and Samuel at the corners and use Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie primarily in the slot. And that's how they used the threesome for most of the season.

But it was obvious by the end of the season that Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't comfortable inside and that the Eagles' new scheme was better suited to press cover corners such as Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie.

Samuel missed the last two games of the season with an ankle injury, allowing Rodgers-Cromartie to showcase himself outside. He played well. He also has only one year left on a contract that will pay him about $7.5 million less than what Samuel stands to earn.

While it's always possible the Eagles pull off a stunner and trade Rodgers-Cromartie instead, they have backed themselves into a corner when teams approach them about Samuel.

Everyone knew they were committed to trading McNabb and Kolb, but the Eagles still came out ahead. McNabb had a forgettable season in Washington, while the Eagles bagged second- and fourth-round draft picks. Kolb struggled in Arizona last season and the Eagles still have Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round selection next month.

Despite the difficulties in dealing Samuel, he is a proven corner and one of the best pickoff artists in the game. There will be a market for such a player in today's pass-happy NFL.

Roseman, who has handled most of the Eagles' transactions the last two years, will be sure to use that to his advantage. Since becoming general manager in January 2010, the 36-year-old Roseman has made 25 trades with 15 teams.

 Reid, of course, has final say on personnel moves, and perhaps more pull in the direction of the franchise, if a Los Angeles Times report from last week is accurate. Banner is also involved, although his sway over the Eagles could be waning if Reid did indeed win an offseason power play. But it's Roseman who has a particular affinity for big deals. 

Last week, the Eagles acquired linebacker DeMeco Ryans for a fourth-round pick and a trade of third-rounders.

"You have known factors in [trades]," Roseman said. "You have guys that have played in the league and so you have a body of work. It's not projecting them to the NFL. . . . It's a lot less risk, so you should probably be more accurate on trades than you should other things."

While the Eagles got the better of the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals, they haven't had as much success in their trades for defensive players. And they wouldn't have had to stretch for linebacker Ernie Sims or defensive end Darryl Tapp had they not been wildly off target in the draft.

Most of the significant players the Eagles have traded for or signed in free agency over the last three offseasons have been on defense, the most prominent being defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, and the aforementioned Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, Sims, Tapp, and Ryans.

Samuel, signed as a free agent in 2008, wasn't homegrown either. So the Eagles' issues with drafting defensive players precedes Roseman's tenure as GM. Still, whatever they get in return for Samuel, odds are it will address the holes on defense.


Since Howie Roseman became general manager in 2010, the Eagles have pulled off a number of trades, some of them blockbusters. A few have benefited the Birds greatly, others have not. Interestingly, all the players the Eagles have received in the most significant deals have been on the defensive side of the ball. Here's a closer look at those trades:

DATE/TEAM                            EAGLES GAVE UP                                                    EAGLES GOT BACK

March 16, 2010/Seahawks         DE Chris Clemons, 4th-round pick (DE E.J. Wilson)            DE Darryl Tapp

VERDICT: Clemons had back-to-back 11-sack seasons; Tapp has had just 51/2 sacks.

 April 2, 2010/Browns               CB Sheldon Brown, LB Chris Gocong                              LB Alex Hall, 4th-round pick  

 VERDICT: Brown and Gocong have started every game. Lindley was released but is back.         (CB Trevard Lindley)

April 4, 2010/Redskins               QB Donovan McNabb                                             2d-round pick (S Nate Allen),

VERDICT: McNabb had one disastrous season in Washington. Allen has been                     *4th-round pick (LB Casey Matthews)

inconsistent, Matthews is still learning.

April 19, 2010/Lions                  **5th-round pick                                                LB Ernie Sims

VERDICT: Sims became the latest of non-answers at weak-side linebacker.

July 28, 2011/Cardinals            QB Kevin Kolb                                                   CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie,

VERDICT: Kolb has a concussion problem. DRC will get his chance. Pick comes in April         2d-round pick

March 20, 2012/Texans               4th-round pick, swap of 3d-round picks                        LB DeMeco Ryans

VERDICT: On paper looks like a winner. They don't play football on paper, though.

*Aside from drafting Matthews, the Eagles parlayed the Redskins' 2011 4th-round pick into the 2012 4th-round pick that was used to trade for Ryans.

**Pick was eventually traded to the Chargers, who drafted defensive tackle Cam Thomas.

- Jeff McLaneEndText