So much for the notion that the Eagles front office is cheap.
After Blast and GCobb.com broke the story Thursday evening, cornerback Asante Samuel officially became a member of the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday afternoon. The deal for the 2007 Pro Bowler and All-Pro is reportedly worth $57 million over six years, with $20 million guaranteed.
Samuel was rumored to also be sought after by the secondary-depleted Saints and the cap-wealthy Buccaneers, but he never made it out of Philadelphia.
With reports of former first-round pick Lito Sheppard’s unhappiness with his own contract, the Eagles made an aggressive play for what they consider to be the top corner in the NFL.
"I think the cornerback position is very important,” said head coach Andy Reid, who has no problem spending big money if it’s one of the positions that he values. “When you have the opportunity to get the best one in the business, then you need to look at that."
The usually close-to-the-vest Reid rarely makes comments about a player in this manner. Not when he already has two quality cornerbacks on the roster.
This strongly hints that Sheppard is a goner, and NFL Network’s Adam Shefter reported later on Friday that the potential malcontent does indeed have permission to shop his services. Sheppard is widely considered to be an excellent playmaker with a knack for the big play, but his inability to stay healthy is a concern. Sheppard has missed 14 games in the past three seasons and hasn’t played a full season since 2003, his second in the league.
Samuel was a fourth-round pick in 2003 by the New England Patriots and saw his rookie contract expire at the end of 2006. He received the franchise tag from the Patriots for the 2007 season, which guaranteed him a $7.2 million one-year salary. The 27-year old’s new contract not only fills his pockets, but provides him with about as much security as you will get in the NFL these days.
"We regarded Asante as the No. 1 available free agent in the NFL," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said on Friday.
Samuel has 22 career interceptions and three touchdowns. He is known throughout league circles as a big-time playmaker with excellent instincts, but as someone who doesn’t love to hit hard. Despite his aversion to overly physical play, he will be a welcomed addition the Eagles.
That is, to everyone except Sheppard.