Everyone knows an Asante Samuel trade will happen some time in the next few weeks, if not days. Andy Reid and Howie Roseman barely even provide us real denials any more. But let’s not kid ourselves here. The Samuel trade was inevitable as soon as the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha last August.
With two massive salaries at the cornerback position, and another starting-caliber player in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, this was never fated to last. In fact, it’s amazing the three players lasted this long. If not for some stubbornness on Howie Roseman’s behalf regarding compensation for Samuel, the live-wire cornerback could easily have watched the Eagles founder in 2011 from a safe distance.
That said, there has been a significant undercurrent of opinion since last summer that argues that the Eagles shouldn’t trade Samuel. That cause got a boost yesterday, when Aaron Schatz at Football Outsiders released their 2011 cornerback charting stats, including the numbers for the Eagles top four corners:
If you read the entire post, you can see that Asante not only ranks at the top of Eagles corners, but one of the best in the NFL last season. Passes that go his way just don’t end up with a lot of yardage, something that was also true last year.
But statistics are never that simple; the matter of targets complicated things. The Football Outsiders data also shows that Samuel was targeted nearly twice as much as Asomugha. As Sheil Kapdia wrote today, Pro Football Focus has similar findings. Clearly, opponents would rather pick on Samuel than his counterpart.
At this point, you’re looking at statistics that come to opposite conclusions: do you want the guy who is rarely targeted but gives up more yardage, or the guy who’s targeted often but doesn’t give up big plays?
Regardless, keeping both certainly didn’t work. It made everyone worse, because Roseman and company didn’t see realize how different each of the three players are, and how much Juan Castillo was incapable of finding any arrangement that made them all happy. It was a mess.
The right move was probably to not sign Asomugha in the first place, but that’s over with now. At this point, trading Samuel isn’t necessary the right move, but it is the only move. It’s unclear which corner — Nnamdi or Asante — is the better player, but they can’t coexist (at least with Castillo as coordinator). Time to get what you can for Samuel and hope that Asomugha can stave off his decline, and DRC can live up to his potential playing on the outside.
We’ll miss the self-proclaimed Pres, but there’s really no other choice.
Photo from Getty.