Once the Eagles acquired cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, talk immediately began that Asante Samuel was on the trade block. Early in August Eagles President Joe Banner himself said the team was entertaining offers for the veteran interception machine.
There was talk that the Eagles were looking for a couple second round picks in exchange for Samuel, but even if they got a first rounder it wouldn’t help them win now. If they were going to take the chance on moving Samuel it would have to be for another impact player, preferably a linebacker who can step in and immediately improve an extremely suspect spot. There was even a ridiculous Samuel for 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis trade rumor floated out there, and we’re not even going to mention the even more absurd Samuel for Mario Williams one (d’oh).
But as the preseason has progressed and the Eagles not liking what they’re hearing offer-wise, it’s looking more and more like Samuel is staying put. As he should. The NFL is a passing league and more and more teams are using multiple receiver sets. The Eagles themselves constantly spout off about how cornerback is one of the most valuable positions on a team (as opposed to, say, linebacker), so it makes sense from all angles for the team to hold on to Samuel.
And it’s not like Asante suddenly can’t play. While he’s no longer on the right side of 30, he’s still an elite ballhawk who would be a starter on pretty much any other team in the NFL. After watching the overall cornerback play last year, which at times had more people covering their eyes in horror than that human centipede move, it’s nice to know that the position is finally well accounted for.
That said, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to trade an excess cornerback, and that’s exactly what Joselio Hanson is.
And now Reuben Frank of csnphilly.com is reporting the Eagles have received “multiple” offers for the veteran nickel back and says there’s a “good chance” that Hanson is dealt by final cutdown day on September 3.
It makes sense, with second year player Trevard Lindley and rookie third round pick Curtis Marsh serving in reserve and developmental roles behind the Big Three. The Eagles also really like third year player Brandon Hughes, who they picked up last year from the New York Giants practice squad. Depending on how many corners the Eagles keep, moving Hanson would make it much more likely the team would get to retain all the young players they like while the top of the position remains extremely strong. It’s basically a best of both worlds scenario and it means Hanson will almost definitely be moved.
In Thursday’s night preseason contest against the Browns Hanson barely saw the field, primarily due to the Eagles wanting to see Hughes play.
“We were trying to get a look [at Hughes],” Reid said. “We’re in this evaluation process. I know what Joselio can do. Joselio is a good football player. He’s played for me for a number of years. … I have to see what else I have got and make sure that we give them enough reps to show.
“In the secondary, that is a hard thing. You need quite a few reps to get a decent feel for it. It’s not like with the offensive line where you can evaluate on every snap. In the secondary, in particular at the corner spot, you need more reps to make an evaluation.”
And with the recent contract extension Hanson signed in 2009 , it’s pretty hard to justify the current price tag for a dime corner. Per Frank, Hanson’s performance in 2010 triggered escalator clauses in the contract, bumping Hanson’s 2011 base salary from $1.68 million to $1.88 million and cap figure from $2.235 million to $2.435 million. Also, Hanson is scheduled to make $2.7 million in 2012 and $3.1 million in 2013.
That’s not huge money for a starting corner or even a nickel but the Eagles likely don’t want to pay that when the three guys ahead of Hanson are already so well compensated. With their recent Madden-esque spending spree and contract issues lurking for Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, the purse strings have to be tightened somewhwere.
Of course, the trade return for Hanson won’t be anything close to what the Eagles would get for Asante, but anything is better than just cutting a solid player. Hanson has played well in a backup and nickel role for the Eagles over the past few years, but with their strength at the top of the depth chart now is the right time to move on. If the team can secure even a pick as high as the fifth round from a talent-thin team like the Carolina Panthers or even the Giants, it would be a nice get.
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