The Patriots look to be closer to strengthening their secondary for at least this year. According to the NFL Network who basically confirmed what a “source” told the Boston Herald a little over a month ago, cornerback Asante Samuel is expected to sign the one-year, $7.79 million franchise tender that was offered to him and report to the team this week. Samuel’s agent, Alonzo Shavers would not confirm nor deny the report, saying, “I’m sure he’ll definitely be around in the near future. I just don’t want to speculate because he hasn’t given me an inkling one way or another. I’m sure when he’s ready, he’ll tell me. He’s not given me the green light, so I can’t confirm or deny anything.”
Assuming that Samuel does indeed sign, it would give him about two weeks to get himself into game shape. One would think that both the Patriots and their fans are elated on this news as the team appeared to be settling on using Ellis Hobbs and Randall Gay at the corners; with the impending signing near, Gay would be the backup to Samuel. The signing would make Samuel the last franchised player remaining who has signed their franchise tender; Bears linebacker Lance Briggs is the most recent to sign his deal.
The signing couldn’t come at a better time for the Patriots. While Gay and Hobbs are more than competent CB’s, they don’t hold a candle to Samuel who has proven to be one of the premier CB’s in the league with his ability to jump routes in zone coverage. The big question is this: even with this signing, will Samuel sign a long-term deal either during or shortly after the season is over? I would venture to speculate that with so many deals expiring after this season, that would free up some extra cash to get Samuel locked in for the next several seasons. I’d like to see Samuel signed long-term if for anything else to solidify their secondary.