Movin' on up
Samuel just turned 33 last month. Normally when you're considering adding a four-time Pro-Bowler to your secondary, age doesn't enter too much into the equation. After all, who couldn't use an additional quality cornerback on the roster?
I'll get to his performance in a bit, but the primary reason that Samuel doesn't fit with the Bears is that, according to Phil Emery, they intend on being a younger defense. With new coaches in place, along with the possibility of changing scheme (based on personnel), it feels like as good a time as any to get younger and groom fresh talent into the system -- i.e. not time to bring in a declining 33-year old cornerback long passed his glory days.
The numbers are a-changin' (for the worse)
This should probably count more than anything. And since his last Pro-Bowl season (2010), Samuel's numbers have steadily declined -- he only has 8 interceptions in the last three seasons after having 36 the five seasons prior. Something is clearly changing for the worse.
His declining performance peaked last season when the Falcons opted to bench him midway through the season. Injuries were partially to blame for the lull in performance, but, at 33, injuries start becoming more of a concern anyway. Declining performance and past injuries are two of the more tangible red flags you can find, and Samuel's got both in spades.
The Bears are more set at cornerback than you might think
Despite Charles Tillman deciding (unsurprisingly) to test the free agent market, he 1) hasn't officially signed anywhere else, and 2) doesn't leave the Bears in terrible shape at the position if he does sign somewhere else.
The Bears already signed Tim Jennings to a four-year extension, Zack Bowman has several years of experience in Chicago, Isaiah Frey got some much-needed experience last season, and the Bears still have the draft to consider adding anyone at the position. They could also opt to bring back Kelvin Hayden, who was on IR all of last season.
As difficult as it is to say much good about the Bears' awful defense last season, the cornerbacks were arguably the unit's strength. If some areas were shored up around them, they'd hold their own just fine.
The Bears just don't need Samuel (and he's not really a fit to begin with). And when it comes to free agent shopping, the Bears will be scraping the bargain bin this offseason, and it's hard to know what kind of money Samuel will be looking for.
His distant past is top notch. His more-recent past is not. I'd pass.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears follower who thinks Phil Emery and Mark Trestman are going to win a Super Bowl in Chicago. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him an opportunity to closely follow the Bears and has soured him forever on the Cover-2 defensive scheme.
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