With both sides holding firm, it now appears that Pats corner Asante Samuel and the team will not get a long-term deal done by today’s 4pm deadline. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Patriots have not increased their offer to Samuel, and that the corner and his agent are not backing down from wanting more money. “We’re still working, the deadline hasn’t got here yet,” Alonzo Shavers, Samuel’s agent said to the Globe. “We’ve been in conversations.”
Samuel, who may be on the same path of Deion Branch was one season ago in New England, sits with one of two options about his deal. He can sign the one-year franchise tender and play this season for $7.79 million, or he can sit out until week 10, then play the last six games. Playing those last six games would give him a credited season toward his pension. It also would set him up for becoming a free agent in 2008.
Last year the Pats were in a similar situation with Branch, who after not signing a deal was shipped to the Seahawks. Sure enough the Pats didn’t miss a beat, and have reloaded the wide out spot for 2007 to the point where Branch is an afterthought. The same would happen here if Samuel continues his stance to play hardball and decide he is not going to play. At that point I would not be surprised to see the Pats work hard to get a deal to move Samuel. There was rumors of the Jets having interest sometime ago, but the Pats making a trade with a division rival would be tough.
Samuel, who is entering his 4th season, is a solid shutdown corner who does deserve to be paid well to play the corner spot. The only thing is how much is he truly worth, and how much are the Pats willing to part with? New England is one of those teams that usually treats players fairly, but does not like to get mixed up in drawn out contract squabbles that would cause locker room tension. If Samuel wants to sit out and go that route, you can clean out his locker today and get a new jersey ready for him at some point in the 07 season.