With the offseason in full swing, the Patriots are looking to add players to the roster to fill the necessary needs they have to make another Super Bowl run in 2012.
One of those obvious needs is in the secondary, where they implored several different combinations of starting cornerbacks and safeties last season. On Sunday, we received word that a former Patriot defensive back could be available via trade.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Eagles are looking to trade disgruntled cornerback Asante Samuel before this April's draft. Samuel was traded to the Eagles from the Patriots in 2008, after being drafted and playing for New England since 2003.
Samuel, 31, played alongside Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a very crowded Eagles secondary last year. After serving as their No. 1 corner for three years, Samuel was outsourced in 2011 by the acquisitions of Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, and because of it, his name has come up in trade discussions ever since.
With the Patriots having the need and and Samuel being a familiar face, might they want to pursue him? Well, there are positives and negatives to making the move.
For one, there's no denying that Samuel is still one of the most dynamic cornerbacks in the NFL. Despite a rough 2011 with limited duty, Samuel has done well for himself in Philly, totaling 122 tackles and 23 interceptions in his four years there. He was selected as a pro-bowler in 2008, 2009 and 2010 with the Eagles. He's a pure stud in the secondary, and we all saw him blossom with our own eyes
Samuel came into his prime in 2006 with the Patriots, as hasn't looked back ever since. He's still a clear No. 1/2 cornerback that could really help any team's secondary. He's got quick instincts and is a great cover-corner, who can match up against the most athletic and quick receivers the NFL has to offer.
The unique draw that the Patriots could have for Samuel would be the familiarity. He was born and bred into the Patriots defensive scheme, and it wouldn't take him long for him to get re-acquainted with it all. Samuel performed well with the Eagles for three seasons, but he struggled last season. It would do wonders for him to come to New England and get his career back on track.
Not to mention, the Patriots have the resources and the room to make such a trade for Samuel. A possible Samuel trade for the Patriots wouldn't cost them more than maybe their third round pick and a future pick. And that's if the Eagles get greedy. Any potential Samuel acquisition would give the Patriots a whole lot of flexibility as to what they could do with their secondary. For one, Samuel could either serve as a starter with Devin McCourty with Kyle Arrington and and Ras-I Dowling serving as depth corners. Or, Samuel could open the door for McCourty to transition to safety, a move that has been widely speculated by many.
While there are tremendous benefits for making this move, their are also some drawbacks. Samuel is due $9.5 million in 2012, a number that has scared many teams away from possibly making a trade for him. The Patriots do have the cap space to take on most of Samuel's salary, but not likely all of it. If acquired, they'd likely have to ask him to restructure. And that's not a certainty, given his history in New England.
The reason for Samuel's departure in 2007 wasn't due to performance, it was due to a contract dispute. When the Patriots didn't reward Samuel with a pay raise, he wanted out, and they sent him on his way to the city of brotherly love. The Patriots have never been the team to offer substantial contracts to anyone. The team's biggest move this offseason has been signing Brandon Lloyd, who will make $4 million in 2012.
If Samuel is brought back, it'll be strictly on the Patriots terms. If this hurdle can be cleared, an acquisition of Samuel makes a whole lot of sense for both sides.