It's the phrase every Eagles fan makes the middle of nearly every game, usually when the opponent is driving or the game has fallen into a malaise: "This would be a real good time for a turnover."
For the last four years, that meant Asante Samuel had to stop nursing his hamstrings long enough to jump a route and give the offense new life.
The Eagles didn't pay Asante Samuel to tackle people, according to Asante Samuel. The Eagles paid Asante Samuel to intercept passes. He would know. He's Asante Samuel.
He picked off passes a lot. Twenty-one times in his first three years in Philly, to be exact, including one postseason pick of Eli Manning.
Last July, though, the Eagles bought themselves two shiny new toys - Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And suddenly, nearly seven INT's a season wasn't good enough.
The pieces didn't fit. The Eagles tried to make things work in Asante's favor last year, and, at the expense of Nnamdi and DRC's productivity, he had one of the best years of his career, even if he didn't put up his usual gaudy interception numbers.
But Nnamdi and DRC are man-to-man guys, and apparently, Juan Castillo can't make them work with #22, not that he made a lot of things work last season. So Asante is gone. He heads to Atlanta to start alongside sort-of-good-at-zone-coverage-guy Brent Grimes, which will give former starter Dunta Robinson plenty of time to go to hell. Have fun paying three cornerbacks a zillion dollars total, Arthur Blank.
Asante turned out to be one of the best free-agent signings in recent Eagles history. Better than The Freak. Better than T.O. And yes, it's hard to believe, but even better than Blaine Bishop. They paid Asante big money, and he earned it.
Then, there's what the Eagles got in return for Samuel. A...seventh...round...pick.
The Eagles got more for Lito Sheppard, even after the team spent a full year driving his value off a cliff. They probably could've gotten more if they'd tried to bring him to a recycling center. You can get teams to toss a seventh-round pick into any trade just by mentioning the number randomly during negotiations.
"Man, this has been a long morning. You know, you're the seventh call I've had to make, and it's not even noon..."
"Hey, speaking of which, want us to throw a seventh-round pick into this deal? You know, balance things out and all."
This trade comes down to cap room. It comes down to DRC not being able to play the slot. It comes down to...*sigh*...giving Joselio Hanson more playing time.
A few good things about the deal, though:
Boy, you ever wonder why Asante Samuel wanted out of Philadelphia? Maybe it’s because nobody wants him here, like, at all.
We’re approaching the eight-month mark of “Asante’s on the trade block!!!!” status. The Titans are the destination du jour according to the Gunner. And even though having a rookie come visit for a workout is far from turning in your card to the commissioner at the draft, it probably doesn’t bode well for Samuel’s odds of staying with Philly that the team keeps inviting cornerbacks to hang out with them.
The idea that Samuel of all guys is going to be the odd man out in the secondary is mind-boggling. Nnamdi and DRC looked lost or misused all year, and in the meantime, all Samuel did was perform like one of the five best cornerbacks in football.
Samuel has been one of the best big-name free agent signings of the last five years. The Birds paid him a truckload of cash, and he’s been a top-five cornerback for pretty much the duration of his deal. Further, anyone who says he doesn’t deserve the dough because he doesn’t hit people deserves to have their ears boxed. No team pays their cornerbacks on the basis of whether or not they can take a ballcarrier’s head off. No one talks about Darrelle Revis because he’s a hard hitter, and literally nobody talks about Sheldon Brown, period.
There are three reasons the Eagles might trade Samuel
· He costs too much money (north of $10 million next year)
· He doesn’t fit their scheme
· He’s not happy
The Eagles always have money on hand, so despite what Florio seems to believe, this isn’t a cap move. And as long as large sums of money continue to be directly deposited into his checking account (or savings or money market – maybe he’s a conscientious saver), Samuel seems to like Big Red and Philly.
So we’re looking at a big-time scheme shift for Juan Castillo if Samuel is dealt. All press-man, all the time. Buckle up, kids.
In other news…
· The booth is going to review all turnovers now, too. Coaches can now basically only challenge ball spots and catch/no catch now. This is good. Technology is only as good as the people who use it, but at least we’re well on our way to employing one guy to solely focus on replay decisions.
· Surprise! When you sign a bunch of free agents and your worst free-agency causality is Stewart Bradley, you don’t get any compensatory draft picks.
· Like every other team in the NFL, the Eagles inquired about Peyton Manning. Sources are unclear as to why the Eagles asked about Manning when they already committed to a guy with the 14th-best QB rating in the league, but some speculate the inquiry had to do with Peyton Manning being one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
· Rock on, Phil Sheridan.
· Say goodbye to Former Eagle Steve Smith of the Giants. (That’s his full name)
· Hey, Nnamdi’s a nice guy, everyone. Isn’t that sweet?
· Hey, the Eagles are nice guys, everyone. Isn’t that sweet, too?
· Apparently, FredEx didn’t make enough cash from the tax fraud scam he was a part of to pay his child support.
· Some reporter asked Pete Carroll if the $2 billion purchase of the Dodgers is a sign that football should come to Los Angeles, so now it’s Pete Carroll’s idea, apparently.
Peace, love, football.
So, I'm gonna level with you for a minute here.
Electrical engineering = Pretty smart.
General relativity = Pretty f***in' smart.
The Eagles giving up a fourth-round draft pick and swapping third-rounders with the Texans to acquire DeMeco Ryans?
You could read all the articles and takes on this, but the opinions will boil down to this:
I'm going to totally pretend that I'm a renowned expert on Achilles tears and I absolutely wrote this article about NFL players recovering from them. Farthest thing from a slam dunk that Ryans returns to pre-Achilles-shredding form from the beginning of his career.
Like everything in football, though, it's all relative. Mikey Vick isn't as swift as he was when he was 23, but he's still the fastest, most agile quarterback in football, and he's still quicker than most men in a defensive front seven. Defensive coordinators aren't preparing for games saying, "Hey fellas, relax, this Vick guy isn't as fast as he used to be, so no big deal, okay?"
Same goes for Ryans. Speed was never his schtick to begin with, even coming out of college (not that an Achilles tear only impacts a player's running ability. I KNOW GUYS SETTLE DOWN). Even so, Ryans in a merman costume trying to pedal a tandem bicycle on his own around the field is leaps and bounds ahead of what Matthews and Jamar Chaney gave them last year. The Houston Chronicle's Texans writer spent most of the night making sweet, sweet love to Ryans on Twitter if you're interested.
It's a lottery ticket. If he's solid, the Eagles have him through 2015 at $6.5 million a year. If he isn't, not a time of it is guaranteed after this coming year. It's the Ernie Sims and Will Witherspoon trades combined, but a zillion times better - and in terms of player type, he's Mitt Romney's version of Dan Connor, a guy the Eagles were linked to before.
Plus, Big Red's spent every evening the last month or so watching scouting tape of Fletcher Cox alone in his dark bedroom without pants on. With the mike locked up, now he can actually draft him in April.
Before we go, just wanted to let you know that the Eagles showing up on this list is the dumbest thing of all time.