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Patriots, Samuel: No Deal. Now what?

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Waiting Game Resumes
Deadline Passes on Patriots, Samuel

So the deadline for the New England Patriots and Asante Samuel to come to terms on a contract extension has come and gone (Boston Herald, Boston Globe). Now what?

Much as we did until 4 p.m. today, we wait.

We wait until training camp and Week 1 of the regular season. And then we might wait until Week 10. And then we might wait longer.

Both sides lose here. The Patriots need Samuel. As always, they're not desperate. But there's no question they're better with him than without him. Samuel needs the Patriots. He doesn't get paid without them. And he's not going to impress other teams by sitting on the sideline.

Who loses worse? There's no way to tell until it all plays out. There are way too many What Ifs.

What if whomever ends up a cornerback gets burned time and time again? What if the Patriots d-backs suffer another litany of injuries? What if they never come to terms and New England needs to replace Samuel, either by draft or trade? Excellent corners aren't hanging around on street corners.

What if Ellis Hobbs or Randall Gay or Tory James any other Patriots cornerback has 4 or 5 interceptions midway through the season? What if the defensive secondary suffers no significant injuries and gels unbelievably well because the defensive line and linebackers play so well? What if the Patriots defense bends but doesn't break and New England is challenging for a top seed? What if the Patriots illustrate (not "prove") that Samuel is a product of the system?

This isn't like Deion Branch. Branch was small potatoes. You almost can find excellent receivers on street corners, and they don't have to be excellent when you have Tom Brady. The Patriots made a mistake not resolving this as soon as possible after the AFC Championship.

When New England assigned Samuel the franchise tag, I called it a great move. (And I think I may have used an even grander superlative.) But by then the die had been cast.

I doubt anyone saw the Nate Clements deal coming, and that's what really threw this whole negotiation into the sewer. Clements doesn't get $80 million, I'm probably not writing this. If the Patriots sign Samuel before Clements' deal is announced, I not writing this now either.

Other deals, like Nathan Vasher's, weren't so extravagant, but Samuel (and more likely his agent) couldn't get those Clements numbers out of his head. And there was no way the Patriots were going to shell out that much for a player with one superb season, a couple good ones, and no Pro Bowls (even though he got robbed).

But no use crying over spilled milk. What's done is done, and all that.

So now we wait.

Again.