In his first public comments since the Philadelphia Eagles added two new pass defenders — former Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb and former Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in a last-dash free-agent push — established Philly cornerback Asante Samuel did not sound at all happy about the team's new acquisitions.
"It's probably 50-50," he said when asked if he thought the Eagles still wanted him around. "So we'll see how it goes."
"If they're tired of my big play-making ability, maybe they'll ship me out," Samuel told the media after Monday practice. "Maybe they'll keep me. I don't know. Who knows?"
On the surface, it seems that Samuel is overreacting to moves that make the Eagles' defense better — they also added pass-rusher Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins — but losing his status as the team's No. 1 cornerback (Asomugha takes that role automatically by way of his status as the NFL's best pass defender over the last decade) obviously rubs him the wrong way, and he has a point.
According to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, no cornerback bas been better in specific situations than Samuel — he's ranked first in the NFL in stop rate against the pass in each of the last two seasons, and first in yards per play allowed in 2010. He also allowed just 1.9 yards after catch, fourth-best in the league. He also led the NFL with nine picks in 2009, and led the NFC with seven in just 11 games last season.
From the perspective of a player with the desire to be the point man at his position on a team, it would make sense that Samuel would be distressed.
"I want to be where I'm wanted," Samuel continued. "If I'm wanted here, then here. If I'm not appreciated here, then life goes on, and I move on."
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman says that Samuel hasn't asked for a trade, and new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said Monday that there's a way to use three top cornerbacks in the same defensive system at the same time.
"Everybody's trying to get three and really four good corners, the way people throw the football," Castillo said. "We have three starters. We need three starters. That's a great deal; we're excited."
Well, not everybody's excited.
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- Asante Samuel
- Nnamdi Asomugha