He’s Back in Red, White & Blue: Samuel’s Decision to Sign is True

Samuel #22

You can now cancel the postgame show:  Cornerback Asante Samuel will report to Gillette Stadium this morning, ending his long, tiring holdout, a source close to the player reported last night. Samuel will arrive to the team’s 8 a.m. meeting, as he will sign the one-year, $7.79-million franchise tender and prepare for his fifth NFL season.The 26-year-old left his Florida home last night to fly to Boston. He has missed 31 days of training camp, though he has not amassed any fines because he was not under contract.

New England designated Samuel as its franchise player in February, after the cornerback had a career-high and league-best 10 interceptions last year. He added two more picks in the playoffs, both of which he returned for touchdowns. Samuel has three career postseason interception returns for touchdowns, tying an NFL record.

Samuel’s representatives and Patriots’ brass tried to work out a long-term deal for several months, but an agreement could not be reached before the July deadline. The two sides cannot resume talks until after the conclusion of the regular season.

The option also exists for the Patriots to franchise Samuel again for the 2008 season. If that happens, he will receive an estimated $9.5 million — the average of the top-five salaries at his position plus 20 percent.

It will be interesting to see when Samuel gets on the field. Though he has been working out in Florida throughout the offseason, he is probably not game ready.

Without him during training camp, third-year corner Ellis Hobbs has slid into the number-one role. After veteran Chad Scott suffered a season-ending injury on the first day of camp, Randall Gay played opposite Hobbs.

While Samuel’s return likely means Gay will be coming off the bench, it also gives New England good depth at the position.

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